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You are here News International The Guardian view on the Israel-Gaza war: politicians must be clear that a ceasefire is needed

The Guardian view on the Israel-Gaza war: politicians must be clear that a ceasefire is needed

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Guardian Editorial s western leaders wake up to the need for a ceasefire in Gaza, nearly 30,000 Palestinians have been killed in Israel’s military campaign. More than two-thirds of the dead in the coastal enclave are thought to be women and children. Thousands more are believed to be buried under the rubble. The reputation of the west as a champion of universal values and upholding a rules-based order is unlikely to recover anytime soon from the bloody events in Gaza.

International politics is not a morality play. Probably several Arab countries were not averse to the idea that Israel could deliver a coup de grâce to Hamas. But the state of the fighting in Gaza suggested that this was a remote possibility. In January, it was estimated that Israel has killed or captured only around one-third of Hamas’s fighting force. To finish the job would only be achievable at an indefensibly high cost to Palestinian – and hostage – lives.

What is needed is an end to the war in Gaza, the release of the remaining hostages and a lasting Israeli-Palestinian peace based on two states. But none of this seems possible with the current Israeli government. Its prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, last week withdrew his delegation from talks in Cairo about a potential deal for a truce and prisoner release, infuriating the families of hostages at home and troubling Israel’s allies abroad.

Mr Netanyahu had caved to threats by extremists in his cabinet to topple him if he reached a “reckless” deal with Hamas. This is the consequence of the ultranationalist tail wagging the rightwing dog. Once seen as marginal politicians, ministers Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben-Gvir – religious fanatics who both live in illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank – speak their minds with impunity. Whether it is their plans to resettle Gaza, their rebuke of the US for sanctioning violent settlers, or their claim that Donald Trump would be better for Israel than Joe Biden, the pair fear no repercussions, knowing that they remain popular with their voting base while Mr Netanyahu does not.

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