Israel-Gaza War: Biden Unveils Israel's Proposal to End Conflict – World

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Image caption, US President Joe Biden Says 'Time to End This War'

US President Joe Biden has called on Hamas to accept new Israeli proposals to end the conflict in Gaza, saying “it's time for this war to end”.

The three-part proposal would begin with a six-week ceasefire during which the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) would withdraw from populated areas of Gaza.

There will be a “surge” of humanitarian aid, as well as some hostage exchanges for Palestinian prisoners.

The deal will eventually lead to a permanent “cessation of hostilities” and a major reconstruction plan for Gaza.

  • writer, Bernd Debusman Jr. and Tom Bateman
  • introduction, BBC News, Washington

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Speaking at the White House on Friday, Mr. Biden said the first phase of the proposed plan would include a “full and complete cease-fire,” the withdrawal of IDF forces from populated areas and a hostage exchange for Palestinian prisoners.

“It's really a defining moment,” he said. “Hamas says they want a ceasefire. This deal is an opportunity to prove if they really mean it.”

The cease-fire, he added, would allow more humanitarian aid to reach the beleaguered region, including “600 trucks carrying aid to Gaza every day.”

In the second phase, the remaining surviving hostages, including the male soldiers, will be brought back. The ceasefire would then become a “permanent cessation of hostilities”.

Among those calling on Hamas to agree to the proposal was UK Foreign Secretary David Cameron, who told X that the group “must accept this deal so we can see an end to the fighting”.

Lord Cameron added, “We have long argued that ending war can turn into lasting peace if we are all prepared to take the right steps.” “Let's seize this moment and end this conflict.”

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also welcomed the development in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter. He said the world had “witnessed too much suffering (and) destruction in Gaza” and said it was “time to stop”.

“I welcome (President) Biden's initiative (and) encourage all parties to seize this opportunity to secure a ceasefire, the release of all hostages, free humanitarian access (and) ultimately a lasting peace in the Middle East.”

In his speech, Mr. Biden acknowledged that negotiations between the first and second phases would be difficult.

Earlier, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had indicated that he was opposed to agreeing to an end to the war as part of a cease-fire agreement – making Mr Biden's reference to ending the war particularly significant.

While the plan includes many details from a previous, ultimately failed round of talks, the US calls for a permanent ceasefire appear to be a significant concession designed to try to bring Hamas back into talks it has already said it would agree to. A permanent ceasefire is one of the main demands of the group.

The third phase of the proposal would see the final remains of any dead Israeli hostages returned, as well as a “major reconstruction plan” with US and international assistance to rebuild homes, schools and hospitals.

video caption, Biden urged Israel to stand behind a three-phase Gaza plan

In his remarks, Mr. Biden acknowledged that some Israelis — including officials within the Israeli government — would likely oppose the proposal.

“I call on Israel's leadership to stand behind this agreement,” he said. “Whatever (political) pressure comes.

The US president addressed the Israeli people directly saying that “we cannot afford to lose this moment”.

Notably, Mr. Biden said that Hamas was now degraded to the point that it could no longer repeat the attack carried out by its fighters on Oct. 7 — a possible signal to Israelis that Washington sees the war as over.

In a statement, Prime Minister Netanyahu stressed that the war will not end until its objectives are achieved, including the return of all hostages and the elimination of Hamas' military and governance power. He said the latest plan would allow Israel to maintain those policies.

Hamas, for its part, said it viewed the proposal “positively” as it called for a permanent ceasefire, the withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza, reconstruction and a prisoner exchange.

The group said it was ready to “positively and constructively deal” with any proposal centered on a permanent ceasefire, provided Israel “declares its clear commitment to it”.

Another Palestinian official familiar with the talks who has seen Israel's new proposal said the document does not guarantee an end to the war or a complete withdrawal of IDF troops from Gaza.

The proposal was sent to Hamas through Qatar-based intermediaries.

Faced with mounting civilian casualties in Gaza, President Biden has faced growing domestic criticism over the level of US support for Israel and calls for more to be done to encourage the warring parties to negotiate.

Earlier this week, however, the White House said it did not believe the Israeli operation in Rafah was a “major ground operation” that could cross a red line and lead to a potential change in US policy.

The statement came after Israeli airstrikes on Sunday killed at least 45 Palestinians.

In a separate announcement on Friday, US lawmakers from both sides of the political spectrum formally invited Mr Netanyahu to address Congress in Washington.

It is not clear when the address will be.

According to the Hamas-run health ministry, more than 36,000 people have been killed across Gaza since the conflict began.

The war began in October when Hamas gunmen launched an unprecedented attack on Israel, killing nearly 1,200 people and taking 252 hostages back to Gaza.

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