Biden 'fails to corner Israel into accepting Gaza ceasefire deal'

White House has accepted that Israel's goal of eradicating Hamas cannot be achieved, analyst says

US President Joe Biden is under pressure to find a solution to the Gaza war. Reuters
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Eager to put an end to the war on Gaza, US President Joe Biden tried to pressure Israel into accepting the latest ceasefire deal by calling it an Israeli proposal, an analyst said.

But that has failed to put an end to the devastating, months-long war on the Gaza Strip.

"They just came out and said, 'No, we don't accept'," Khaled Elgindy, senior fellow at the Middle East Institute and an expert on US-Israeli relations, told the National. "And so, here we are."

On Sunday the White House insisted that the latest plan for a ceasefire in Gaza laid out by Mr Biden was proposed by Israel, and said the US expects Israel to accept it.

"This was an Israeli proposal," National Security spokesman John Kirby told ABC.

"We have every expectation that if Hamas agrees to the proposal as was transmitted to them, an Israeli proposal, that Israel would say yes again."

On Wednesday, Israeli negotiators had reportedly made an offer for a ceasefire to Hamas.

But on Saturday, Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu backtracked, saying that any deal that did not include the destruction of Hamas was a "non-starter".

On Sunday, a senior adviser to Mr Netanyahu, Ophir Falk, told Britain's The Sunday Times that Mr Biden's proposal was "a deal we agreed to" but that it was "not a good deal but we dearly want the hostages released, all of them".

The comments came after mediators Egypt, Qatar and the US put out a joint statement calling on Hamas and Israel to finalise the ceasefire agreement.

Mr Elgindy said a core issue is Israel's goal of eradicating Hamas.

"The [Biden] administration has clearly accepted the idea that Hamas is not going to be destroyed, which was always an absurd concept," he said.

"They're now saying, you've done enough damage to Hamas that they are not capable of carrying out another October 7 kind of attack."

More than 36,400 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli strikes on Gaza since the war began, local health authorities say.

On October 7, Israel launched a military campaign on the coastal enclave after a Hamas-led attack on the country's south killed 1,200 people.

Mr Kirby said that after eight months of war, Hamas is now no longer capable of another attack on Israel.

"The Israelis have accomplished almost all of their goals in Gaza," he said.

Mr Biden, who is running for re-election in November, has been under pressure to rein in Israel and do more to end to the conflict.

Protests have erupted across the country, and polls show he has lost substantial support among progressives and Arab Americans.

But Mr Biden is also wary of backlash from his Republican rivals, and the staunchly pro-Israel US Congress.

On Friday he announced that Israel had offered a comprehensive, three-phased ceasefire proposal that would lead to an end to the war in Gaza and its reconstruction, and declared that it was "time for this war to end”.

The first phase, Mr Biden said, involves a six-week ceasefire, during which Israeli forces would withdraw from Gaza, a number of hostages would be released in exchange for hundreds of Palestinians held in Israeli prisons, and humanitarian aid would be enabled.

The second phase would see the rest of the living hostages released and the withdrawal of Israeli troops from Gaza, while the third would consist of a rebuilding plan for Gaza and a return of the bodies of hostages who died in custody.

Hamas has said that it viewed the latest ceasefire proposal positively.

Updated: June 02, 2024, 9:24 PM