Former U.S. national security adviser John Bolton reiterated his belief Thursday that the short-term truce between Hamas and Israel is a “bad deal.”
“Hamas is playing a game of psychological warfare against the people of Israel, and the people of the United States as well,” Bolton argued in an interview with CNN’s Kaitlan Collins on Thanksgiving Day, just hours before the temporary cease-fire is set to begin.
“They’re trying to distract Israel from its strategic mission of eliminating Hamas, and trying to focus on the question of the hostages [and] the question of the condition of civilians in Gaza,” he added.
While acknowledging that he believes the situation is “heart-wrenching” for the families of the hostages, the former White House official said Israel’s mission of eradicating the Palestinian militant group is “much more important.”
He argued that Hamas wants to turn the four-day pause into permanent ceasefire by attempting to “break the morale,” or the resolve of the Israeli military — thus benefitting the militants over Israel.
“Now, I don’t think they’re going to achieve that at the first iteration. But they’re trying to put the onus on the Israeli forces,” he told Collins.
“I don’t think this one event is necessarily going to be the Alpha and Omega,” Bolton added. “But if this sets a precedent that undermines Israeli resolve to achieve what they’re legitimately entitled to achieve — the elimination of Hamas as a threat — it’ll be a huge victory for the terrorists.”
His comments come as a temporary truce between Israel and Hamas is set to begin Friday at 7 a.m. local time.
Bolton further asserted that the longer it takes to eradicate Hamas, the more they will become willing to negotiate with them.
“What I worry about is the pause, if it begins in a few hours, is just the opening wedge to achieve that objective,” he said.
Bolton made similar comments on Wednesday’s edition of the “Cats and Cosby” show.
“The deal itself, at least as I understand the terms as they’ve been announced, is a very bad deal for Israel,” he told host John Catsimatidis. “It’s another swap of hostages — innocent victims — for criminals that are in Israeli jails at a ratio of 3:1 in favor of the Hamas terrorists.”
The deal, reached by the groups earlier this week, will allow for the release of 50 hostages in exchange for a pause in fighting marks one of the most significant developments in the more than six-week war. Israel will also release 150 Palestinian prisoners as part of the agreement.
According to a spokesperson for Qatar, who handled negotiations, the first batch of captive civilians — including 13 women and children — will be delivered around 4 p.m. local time.
Despite the temporary pause, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to continue the war against Hamas until the militant group is eliminated.
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