June 15, 2024

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Biden says Israel has agreed to a “permanent” ceasefire proposal in Gaza | Joe Biden News

Biden says Israel has agreed to a “permanent” ceasefire proposal in Gaza |  Joe Biden News

Israel has approved a proposal that would lead to a “permanent” ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, US President Joe Biden announced, as he faces mounting pressure and criticism over his support for the Israeli war effort.

During a press conference at the White House on Friday afternoon, Biden said Israel had put forward a “comprehensive new proposal” to end the war.

The US President told reporters: “It is a road map for a permanent ceasefire.”

Biden said that the proposal includes three phases, the first phase lasts six weeks and includes a complete ceasefire, as well as the withdrawal of Israeli forces from all populated areas in Gaza.

The first phase will also see the release of a number of prisoners held in the Gaza Strip – including women and the elderly – in exchange for the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners in Israel, while humanitarian aid flows into Gaza.

“There are American hostages who will be released at this stage and we want them to return to their homeland,” Biden said, adding that Qatar had referred the proposal to the Palestinian Hamas movement that rules Gaza.

Hamas did not immediately comment on Biden’s statements on Friday.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said in a statement that Netanyahu allowed the Israeli negotiating team to “present a plan to achieve” the war goals, Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported.

“The war will not end until all its goals are achieved, including the return of our hostages and the neutralization of Hamas’ military and governmental capabilities,” the statement said, according to what was reported by Haaretz newspaper.

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“The precise plan proposed by Israel, including the interim transitional phase, allows Israel to adhere to these principles.”


Pressure on Biden

Biden’s announcement came at a time when efforts to reach a ceasefire faltered amid the Israeli army’s incursion into the city of Rafah in southern Gaza, which led to the forcible displacement of about one million Palestinians over the past month.

The deadly Israeli attacks on Rafah led to the deaths of dozens of Palestinians and sparked global outrage. More than 36,000 Palestinians have been killed in the Israeli bombing of Gaza since the war began in early October.

The coastal enclave is also under an Israeli blockade, which has led to severe shortages of food, water and other humanitarian supplies, and prompted warnings of famine.

As the crisis in Gaza worsened, Biden faced widespread protests and criticism over his strong military and diplomatic support for Israel during the war.

Despite growing anger over the Israeli offensive – including the recent deadly attacks on Rafah – and warnings that he risks losing re-election because of his stance, the US president’s policy has remained largely unchanged.

A new poll released this week indicated that Biden enjoys less than 20% support among Arab Americans, a key constituency in many swing states that could decide the next vote.

Biden is scheduled to face his Republican predecessor, Donald Trump, on November 5 in a contest that is expected to be close.

Palestinians flee with their belongings as smoke rises in the Tal al-Sultan area in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, May 30. [Eyad Baba/AFP]

A prolonged Israeli war in Gaza — which could last for at least another seven months, according to Israeli National Security Advisor Tzachi Hanegbi — would hurt Biden’s re-election chances, experts said.

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“The signs are clear. The writing is on the wall,” Josh Rubner, a lecturer at Georgetown University’s Justice and Peace Program, told Al Jazeera this week.

“And if Biden decides to continue this continued support for Israel for another seven months, it will not only kill tens of thousands of Palestinians, but it will also lose him the election.”

Speaking to Al Jazeera on Friday, Palestinian political analyst Nour Odeh said the proposal did not appear to differ “in any fundamental way” from those presented previously.

But what is striking is that Biden “put himself on the line,” as Odeh said.

She added: “He said that the United States will ensure that Israel adheres to its role in the deal as long as the mediators can convince Hamas to accept the deal and keep its side of the deal.”

“This is the first time we have heard from the president of the United States, Israel’s most important ally, saying: ‘This deal is on the table, it is good and everyone should accept it.’ I think it will be difficult for Hamas to resist the kind of pressure that will be applied.” On it, without a doubt.”

On May 6, Hamas said it had agreed to a ceasefire proposal put forward by Egypt and Qatar that appears almost identical to the proposal Biden announced on Friday. Israeli leaders rejected this initiative.


Next stages

In his speech from the White House, Biden said the second phase of the ceasefire proposal would see the release of “all remaining living hostages” in Gaza, the withdrawal of Israeli forces from the Strip, and a “permanent cessation of hostilities.”

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He said: “Now I will be frank with you, there are a number of details that must be negotiated to move from the first stage to the second stage.”

But the proposal says that if negotiations take longer than that [the] Six weeks after the first phase, the ceasefire will remain in place as long as negotiations continue.

Biden added that the United States, along with Qatar and Egypt, will work to continue these talks.

Finally, the Gaza Reconstruction Plan will begin in the third phase of the proposal and the remains of any killed prisoners will be returned to their families.

While Biden said Israel had agreed to the plan, he indicated that some Israelis — including members of Netanyahu’s coalition government — would disagree with the proposal and call for the war to continue.

They have made it clear: they want to occupy Gaza. They want to keep fighting for years. Hostages are not a priority for them. Biden said: “Well, I urge the leadership in Israel to stand behind this deal despite any pressure that comes.”