Biden Proposes Ceasefire, Hostage Deal That Hamas Has Already Rejected; Says ‘Total Victory’ Impossible

Joe Biden on Israel and Trump verdict (Brendan Smialowski / AFP via Getty)
Brendan Smialowski / AFP via Getty

President Joe Biden announced a proposal for a ceasefire and hostage deal between Israel and Hamas on Friday — but its terms repeat those that Hamas has already rejected in recent weeks.

Biden spoke after the onset of the Jewish Sabbath in Israel, meaning that the Israeli government would not be able to respond to his comments, at least officially, for about 24 hours.

He claimed that Israel had offered the new deal, and that it had been transferred, via Qatari mediators, to Hamas. However, he later criticized members of the Israeli government who, he said, opposed the terms.

The Times of Israel said it was unclear whether the Israeli government had actually accepted the terms.

The proposed deal, Biden said, would have three phases:

  1. A six-week ceasefire, in which some hostages would be released, including the five American hostages. Israel would release a certain number of Palestinian prisoners. Palestinian civilians would be able to return to their homes all over Gaza, and humanitarian aid would be surged into the territory for distribution to those civilians.
  2. Negotiations would begin for a permanent ceasefire, and the temporary ceasefire would continue even past the six-week deadline, as long as talks were ongoing. All remaining hostages would be freed if talks were successful.
  3. A program for the major reconstruction of Gaza would be implemented, and remains of dead hostages returned.

These are terms identical to those that have been discussed for months, including in recent deliberations in Egypt. Hamas rejected these terms, accepting only a deal — which was never offered — in which Israel would agree to stop fighting before hostages were freed.

Hamas has been the obstacle to a deal thus far, insisting that Israel agree to a permanent ceasefire before it will release some of the hostages.

Biden acknowledged that the proposal would not require Hamas to be completely defeated. But he argued: “At this point, Hamas is no longer capable of carrying out another October 7th.”

He blasted skeptics of the plan within the Israeli government itself, claiming — without evidence — that “the hostages are not a priority to them.” Biden also said that an Israeli pursuit of the goal of “total victory” would be futile, and would  “will only bog down Israel in Gaza.” He offered the prospect of a normalization deal with Saudi Arabia after the war had ended.

Biden began his remarks by lauding the conviction of former President Donald Trump in New York, saying that it showed “no one is above the law.” He said that it was “reckless” for anyone to suggest the trial had been “rigged.”

It is unclear why Biden felt the need to deliver a speech announcing a set of proposals that had already been made, except possibly as a pretext to respond to the Trump verdict without organizing a press event specifically to do so.

It is also possible that Hamas feels new pressure as a result of the Israeli military operation in Rafah, and may be more willing to negotiate. Israel now controls Gaza’s border with Egypt, cutting Hamas off from smuggling routes.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent e-book, “The Zionist Conspiracy (and how to join it),” now available on Audible. He is also the author of the e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.


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