Biden Pushes for Ceasefire in Gaza

Israel’s war on Gaza is continuing without an end in sight. More than a war, it’s easy to describe it as Israel’s rage against Hamas for killing their citizens and taking their people as hostages, affecting the civilians of Gaza. It’s emotional, sentimental, and religious. The world is split, with protests occurring from New York to Australia, and social media filled with hate comments. Several movements advocate for a truce, but Israel is determined to achieve complete control over Gaza and demolish Hamas from their territory. However, protests are also fuming in Israel, coupled with the prolonged war and fear about hostages, along with demands for post-war plans from the coalition government, creating disturbances for Israel.

In the latest development, the US is now working seriously towards a ceasefire in Gaza, as it faces humiliation due to its weakened power over Israel and its commitment to human rights. With the US elections six months away, many expect that Biden will lose votes due to poor performance on the Israel issue, with Democrats anticipating a loss of support from Arab Americans and young voters. This is troubling for Biden, and they are finally making some reliable moves for a ceasefire in Gaza.

During a news conference at the White House on Friday afternoon, President Biden stated that Israel has put forward a comprehensive new proposal to end the war, which serves as a roadmap to an enduring ceasefire. Israel has agreed to a proposal that would lead to a lasting ceasefire in Gaza. Biden explained that the proposal involves three phases extending over months. The first phase would last six weeks and include a full and complete ceasefire in Gaza, as well as the withdrawal of Israeli forces from all populated areas of Gaza. Furthermore, the initial phase would entail the release of several captives held in Gaza, including women and the elderly. In exchange for the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners in Israel, humanitarian aid would be provided to Gaza. Israel faces deep pressure from within for delaying the rescue of captives. Biden also noted the presence of American hostages who would be released at this stage. He mentioned that Qatar, acting as an intermediary for Islamic terrorist organizations, had transmitted the proposal to Hamas.

In the second phase, which also lasts six weeks, all remaining hostages would be released, Israel would completely withdraw from Gaza, and both parties would commit to a lasting truce. Finally, a reconstruction plan for Gaza would begin in phase three of the proposal, and the remains of any captives killed would be returned to their families. This plan appears feasible for both parties in the current scenario.

Hamas, which created all the dilemma and actively tried for a ceasefire in Gaza and proposed a deal previously with the help of Qatar and Egypt, said it welcomed Biden’s remarks and his call for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza, withdrawal of Israeli occupation forces from the Gaza Strip, reconstruction, and prisoner exchange. The group also said it was ready to respond “Positively and Constructively” to any proposal that includes those measures – as well as the return of displaced Palestinians to their homes in Gaza. They consider it a win for them because they conducted Jihad, and Israel and their well-known agencies can’t free the hostages who are kept by Hamas. 

But on the Israeli side, it’s not easy. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office stated that he authorized the country’s negotiating team to present a proposal aiming to secure the release of captives held in Gaza. Currently, Israel considers the immediate release of hostages important. However, the Prime Minister also stated that Israel will persist with the war until all its objectives are met, including the destruction of Hamas’s military and governing capabilities. The prime minister said Israel’s conditions for ending the war have not changed: the destruction of Hamas’s military and governing capabilities, the freeing of all hostages, and ensuring that Gaza no longer poses a threat to Israel.

However, Netanyahu  is facing growing pressure from his military and intelligence chiefs, as well as the centrist members of his war cabinet, to outline a plan for administering and rebuilding Gaza when the war ends. Benny Gantz, a major rival who joined Netanyahu’s emergency unity government after 7 October, has said he will resign if the prime minister does not commit to a “Day After” plan by a deadline of 8 June. And there will be huge backlash from the Right wings too, for ending war without completely destroying Hamas. There are many who consider a ceasefire in Gaza itself a defeat.  It’s expected that the post-war situation will be challenging for Netanyahu as a leader because of a lot of corruption accusations against him. So many don’t believe the move from Israel is reliable, and it’s just a wish from Biden. The US national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, reportedly concluded from a visit to the region that he did not believe Netanyahu could or would commit to a long-term peace process.

Biden’s announcement came as efforts to reach a ceasefire in Gaza have faltered amid the Israeli military’s push into the southern Gaza city of Rafah. The Israeli siege, which has led to dire shortages of food, water, and other humanitarian supplies, has spurred warnings of famine, but Israel is actually not looking to end the war immediately, or Netanyahu cannot do that now. It’s expected that the Gaza war will drag on for another seven months at least, but it will badly hurt Biden’s re-election prospects, who are already facing criticism for poor foreign involvement. While Biden pushes for Israel to agree to the plan, members of Netanyahu’s coalition government will disagree with the proposal and call for the war to continue. This situation makes it complex, so it is expected to once again highlight the weakness of the US government under Biden and it will continue the punishment for Gaza.