Biden Offers Peace Plan and Proclaims End of the War Between Hamas and Israel

AP Photo/Hatem Ali

Israel continues to move cautiously into the center of Rafah, trying to avoid the number of casualties that would trip a breaker in U.S.-Israel relations. The Rafah operation will continue as will any other mop-up operations where Hamas has reestablished itself.

In the meantime, Joe Biden has been busy. He told Israel that all their major war aims had been reached and it was time to go home. “At this point, Hamas no longer is capable of carrying out another October 7, just one of Israel’s main objectives in this war, and quite frankly a righteous one,” Biden said at the White House. Biden is pushing an Israeli plan to end the war that not all Israelis are on board with.

I'm sure Israel is very pleased to hear that the American president has proclaimed the war is over. Whether it's actually true, Israel wants to decide for itself, thank you.

Biden has laid out a three-phase proposal to release the hostages, withdraw Israeli troops, and begin rebuilding Gaza. “This is truly a decisive moment,” he said hopefully.

The six-week first phase would include the “withdrawal of Israeli forces from all populated areas of Gaza” and the “release of a number of hostages, including women, the elderly, the wounded in exchange for the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners.”

Phase two would involve exchanging all remaining hostages, including any living Israeli soldiers.

“And as long as Hamas lives up to its commitments, the temporary ceasefire would become, in the words of the Israeli proposals, ‘the cessation of hostilities permanently,’” Biden said.

Phase three would involve the “major reconstruction plan for Gaza would commence" — a task likely to take decades. Also, the remains of any dead hostages would be returned to their families.

But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is insisting the war will not end until Hamas is totally defeated.

“The Israeli government is united in the desire to return our hostages as soon as possible and is working to achieve this goal,” the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement. “Therefore, the Prime Minister authorized the negotiating team to present an outline for achieving this goal while insisting that the war will not end until all of its goals are achieved, including the return of all our hostages and the elimination of Hamas’ military and governmental capabilities.”

For the first time, Hamas viewed the proposals positively. And why not? They've been getting clobbered for eight months.

“The Islamic Resistance Movement Hamas views positively what was included in US President Joe Biden’s speech today,” the statement said. “The movement affirms its position of readiness to deal positively and constructively with any proposal based on a permanent ceasefire, complete withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, reconstruction, the return of the displaced to all their places of residence, and the completion of a serious prisoner exchange deal if the occupation declares its explicit commitment to that.”


Israel’s four-and-a-halfpage proposal was submitted to Hamas on Thursday evening, a US senior administration official said, and matches closely a deal the group itself recently proposed.

“It’s nearly identical to Hamas’ own proposals of only a few weeks ago. So if that’s what Hamas wants, they can take the deal,” the official said.

Indirect talks between Israel and Hamas on securing the hostages’ release were paused three weeks ago after the sides could not come to an agreement on some of the terms.

On Thursday, Hamas said it had informed mediators that it is “prepared to reach a comprehensive agreement” that includes a full hostage and prisoner exchange deal if Israel stops its war in Gaza.

There are a lot of landmines in this deal deliberately placed by Netanyahu. For one, Israel and not Biden are going to decide when their war aims have been reached. Second, Hamas will be required to follow the “exact outline” proposed by Israel.

Netanyahu's goals in agreeing to this outline for peace were twofold. First, he was hoping to get Biden and the international community off his back. Secondly. he's hoping to improve his domestic position for elections that are expected shortly after hostilities end.

It's not likely that Hamas will follow the "exact outline" of the deal, meaning Netanyahu can halt the deal for any reason at any time he wishes.

“I know there are those in Israel who will not agree with this plan and will call for the war to continue indefinitely," Biden said. "Some are even in the government coalition,” he said. He's referring to hardline, ultra-conservative members of Netanyahu's governing coalition.

“They made it clear they want to occupy Gaza. They want to keep fighting for years, and the hostages are not a priority to them,” Biden said.

It's possible that at least part of this deal will be implemented with some hostages released and prisoners exchanged. But the key elements, including Israeli withdrawal from the population centers of Gaza, aren't there yet.


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