American Hostage Omer Neutra's Family Pleads for Son's Safe Return

Old and busted: America doesn’t negotiate with terrorists. New hotness: We’d rather cut a deal with terrorists than support our ally

NBC News helps lift this trial balloon at a very curious moment. The Israelis just conducted a dramatic and successful hostage rescue in Gaza, and at the same time, Joe Biden’s preferred Israeli leader left the unity government in Jerusalem. Ostensibly, this is about getting five Americans out of the hands of Yahya Sinwar, but even NBC sees through this:

Biden administration officials have discussed potentially negotiating a unilateral deal with Hamas to secure the release of five Americans being held hostage in Gaza if current cease-fire talks involving Israel fail, according to two current senior U.S. officials and two former senior U.S. officials. 

Such negotiations would not include Israel and would be conducted through Qatari interlocutors, as current talks have been, said the officials, all of whom have been briefed on the discussions.

What does the Biden adminiatration have for trade with Hamas? By odd coincidence, they both apparently despise Israel’s current government, if not Israel itself:

The officials did not know what the U.S. might give Hamas in exchange for the release of American hostages. But, the officials said, Hamas could have an incentive to cut a unilateral deal with the U.S. because doing so would likely further strain relations between the U.S. and Israel and put additional domestic political pressure on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. 

Got that? We’re going to deal directly with the terrorists that slaughtered 1200 Israelis, mostly civilians, raping and killing women and children along the way, to spite an elected Israeli leader Biden doesn’t like. 

The timing reveals that as well. Why would this come out the Monday after the dramatic hostage rescue in Nuseirat? That operation required the kind of real-time intelligence that comes from having boots on the ground in and around target areas. The IDF didn’t just raid random houses and get lucky, after all. They identified the two locations and the security employed to a precise level, knew how to infiltrate the area, and then achieved tactical surprise and success in the execution of the operation. 

That’s not an accident or entirely a stroke of luck. It followed from the IDF’s strategy of remaining on offense, and it should remind everyone of the reason why a pause and retreat would be a bad idea. That’s especially true now when (a) the intel paid off in a dramatic fashion, and (b) the Israelis just set the disincentives properly for anyone else holding hostages on behalf of Hamas. Why negotiate for a pause and retreat just when the intel and incentives appear to be succeeding?

But there’s another issue with timing, which is: why now after eight months? If this were truly a legitimate effort, Biden and Blinken would have conducted parallel negotiations all along. In fact, this calls into question — again — why Biden didn’t demand the release of American hostages in November, when he took credit for the deal that released over a hundred hostages and resulted in an eight-day operational pause. (Which Hamas violated, natch.) Only one American got released, a toddler who became part of a bonus exchange at the end. And ever since, the Biden administration has barely mentioned the fact that Hamas is holding Americans hostage, and the media doesn’t discuss it at all unless pressed to do so. No one knows how many of them remain alive, although the stunning rescue this weekend of four Israelis has lifted hopes that many of them have not yet been killed.

Caroline Glick answered the “why now” question late last night. The Biden administration wants to pass a cease-fire resolution in the UN Security Council that would force Israel to withdraw from Gaza’s cities — where Hamas brigades remain — in exchange for some hostages, with pledges to rebuild Gaza without any guarantee that Hamas won’t seize control again. Glick also believes that Benny Gantz’ decision to leave the unity government was arranged by the Biden administration to force Netanyahu out and get Israel to withdraw (via Power Line): 

… leaving most hostages in Gaza, ensuring Gaza is a perpetual threat to Israel, and joined forthwith by Judea and Samaria in a “state” whose sole purpose is to annihilate the Jewish state. 

Blinken made Gantz resign from the government last night to foment mass chaos on the streets through the Left’s shock forces. He arrives here today to lay down the law to Netanyahu and give marching orders to his partners here.

The problem for Biden and Gantz is that this will likely go over like the proverbial flatus in church. Biden and his team, and now Gantz, are pushing a policy that only a handful of Israelis support or will countenance. A Pew poll from two weeks ago shows that 73% of Israelis think the military response has either been about right (39%) or hasn’t gone far enough yet (34%). Only 19% of Israelis think Netanyahu has gone too far in Gaza, and only 26% now believe that Israel can ever peacefully co-exist with a Palestinian state. A large plurality wants Israel to control the outcome in Gaza after the war, too:

When it comes to what should happen after the war, there is less consensus. A 40% plurality of Israelis think Israel should govern the Gaza Strip. Smaller shares think Gazans should decide who governs (14%) or would like to see a Palestinian Authority national unity government either with (6%) or without (12%) President Mahmoud Abbas (also known as Abu Mazen) in leadership.

In other words, the Biden administration may have walked Gantz into a political trap. His polling fell off sharply — and Netanyahu’s rose — after Gantz issued his ultimatum. Gantz likely thought that Yoav Gallant would walk out with him to force early elections with a Likud defection. It’s certainly true that Gallant has been at cross purposes with Netanyahu at times, and Gantz explicitly pleaded with Gallant to join him and force the political crisis. Gallant responded by telling Gantz to change his mind, and Shalom Yerushalmi writes today that Gantz and Biden miscalculated the man and the moment:

The “right thing,” according to Gantz, would be for Gallant to leave the Likud party and help bring down the government from the outside. But that’s not going to happen.

Gallant thinks exactly what Gantz does of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. But he won’t defect from Likud.

In recent weeks, Gallant’s position within the party has actually been strengthening, and he is becoming the unofficial leader of the non-Netanyahu camp. This is reflected in internal polls, where he’s been coming in toward the bottom of the party’s top 10.

So Gallant will rebuff Gantz’s entreaties. Indeed, he’s probably angry with Gantz and National Unity No. 2 Gadi Eisenkot for walking out on him.

Not only is this effort from Biden and Antony Blinken despicable, it’s incredibly stupid. They want to reward Hamas for the October 7 massacre and want to punish the Israelis for grasping its existential import. But what else can we expect from the authors of the Kabul Bug-Out and the people who abandoned 14,000 Americans to the Taliban, and the people who have treated American hostages held by Hamas as leverage against Israel? Despicable hardly begins to describe this disgrace. 

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