Biden, 16 Other World Leaders Call to Finalize Gaza Ceasefire Deal

The White House said ’the ball is in Hamas’s court’ to accept the deal, but Israeli officials say it will not agree to end the war without destroying Hamas.

President Joe Biden, as well as the leaders of Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, France, Germany, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Spain, Thailand, and the United Kingdom published a joint statement on Thursday calling for all sides to accept the Gaza ceasefire proposal President Biden recently announced.

“As leaders of countries deeply concerned for the hostages held by Hamas in Gaza, including many of our own citizens, we fully support the movement towards a ceasefire and hostage release deal now on the table and as outlined by President Biden on May 31, 2024,” the June 6 joint statement from the leaders of the 17 countries reads.
President Biden first articulated a three-phase ceasefire proposal during remarks at the White House on Friday.

According to President Biden, phase one would last at least six weeks, and see “a full and complete ceasefire; a withdrawal of Israeli forces from all populated areas of Gaza; a release of a number of hostages—including women, the elderly, the wounded—in exchange for the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners.” He said phase one of the deal would also see new measures to ensure up to 600 truckloads of food can reach the Gaza Strip daily.

President Biden said phase two of the plan would be contingent on continued negotiations, but that the peace established in phase one would hold beyond six weeks, so long as negotiations continue. If those negotiations succeed, he said phase two would entail the Hamas terrorist group releasing its remaining captives; a group that would consist of male Israeli military members. He said if this final hostage release succeeds, Israel will withdraw from the Gaza Strip altogether and the ceasefire will become permanent.

The president said the third and final phase of the ceasefire plan would involve the beginning of reconstruction in the battle-damaged Gaza Strip, and would include Hamas turning over the remains of any deceased hostages.

Biden, Allies Insist Peace Deal Contingent on Hamas

In their new joint statement, President Biden and the 16 other world leaders called on Hamas “to close this agreement, that Israel is ready to move forward with, and begin the process of releasing our citizens.”

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Their statement echoes comments other Biden administration members have made, that a ceasefire is contingent on Hamas’s acceptance of the latest Israeli terms.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said on Tuesday that “the ball is in Hamas’s court” to accept the deal.
State Department spokesman Matthew Miller also insisted on Tuesday that “it is to Hamas to accept, or reject, or come back and say they want to further negotiate the deal, but it is just the facts of it that Israel has agreed to this proposal.” He added again on Wednesday that “the benefits that this proposal offers to the Palestinian people are real, they’re tangible, they would be immediate, and so we think Hamas ought to accept as quickly as possible.”

The new joint statement states, “At this decisive moment, we call on the leaders of Israel as well as Hamas to make whatever final compromises are necessary to close this deal and bring relief to the families of our hostages, as well as those on both sides of this terrible conflict, including the civilian populations.”

Netanyahu Government Appears Skeptical About Ceasefire

Despite the Biden administration placing the onus on Hamas to accept the proposal, the ceasefire terms President Biden laid out appear to have met with some skepticism within the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

President Biden did not clearly state, while laying out the ceasefire terms on May 31, that the proposal would fulfill one of the Netanyahu government’s primary wartime goals, to outright eliminate Hamas.

On Monday, Mr. Netanyahu told the Israeli Knesset that any claims he had agreed to any ceasefire deal “without our conditions being met” are incorrect.

Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich announced on Saturday that he had made clear to Mr. Netanyahu that he would not accept any deal that allows Hamas to remain.

“I have now spoken with the Prime Minister and made it clear to him that I will not be part of a government that will agree to the proposed outline and end the war without destroying Hamas and returning all the abductees,” Mr. Smotrtich said in a social media post on Saturday.

“We will not agree to the end of the war before the destruction of Hamas, nor to a serious damage to the achievements of the war so far through the withdrawal of the IDF and the return of Gazans to the north of the Gaza Strip, nor to the wholesale release of terrorists who will return, God forbid, to murder Jews,” Mr. Smotrich added.

Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir also said on Monday that Mr. Netanyahu had assured him that President Biden had simply misconstrued the terms of the Israeli proposal. But Mr. Ben-Gvir indicated he was not taking the Israeli prime minister at his word and that he had demanded to see the actual details of the ceasefire deal. On Monday, Mr. Ben-Gvir threatened to pull his Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Power) party out of Mr. Netanyahu’s governing coalition if he finds that the prime minister agreed to a “promiscuous deal” to end the war without outright eliminating Hamas.

If Mr. Netanyahu loses support from Mr. Ben-Gvir and the Otzma Yehudit party, or from Mr. Smotrich’s Mafdal–Religious Zionism party, it could fracture his current governing coalition.

Original News Source Link – Epoch Times

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