Biden Goes to the UN Security Council, Adding Pressure on Israel To Prematurely End Gaza War 

The president’s scheme has evolved from a so-called Israeli plan to one that Israel accepts — and that the UN is urging it to implement.

AP/Seth Wenig
The UN Security Council meets before voting on a resolution concerning a cease-fire in Gaza, at United Nations headquarters, February 20, 2024. AP/Seth Wenig

Under the guise of caring for hostages, President Biden is increasing pressure on Israel, pushing a United Nations resolution calling for an end to the Gaza war, which is likely to leave Hamas in power. 

Fourteen members of the UN Security Council supported the American-proposed resolution, calling for a Gaza cease-fire and a release of an unspecified number of hostages held by Hamas. Only Russia abstained. During the week-long negotiations before the resolution was adopted, the American text weakened Israel’s interests, Jerusalem officials say. 

When Mr. Biden first introduced his initiative, on May 31, he claimed it was an Israeli plan. According to the new UN resolution, though, it is a plan that Israel has “accepted.” It urges Hamas to accept it as well, and calls on “both parties to fully implement its terms without delays and without conditions.”

Mr. Biden’s scheme thus evolved, to a plan Israel accepts from a so-called Israeli plan — and to one that the UN urges it to implement. Hamas spokesmen have rejected the plan, while officially the terror organization is yet to give an answer to it. 

The plan entails a “cease-fire with the release of hostages,” the American UN ambassador, Linda Thomas Greenfield, told the council. “What is needed now more than ever is for the fighting to end in a sustainable way,” she said, adding, “We need Hamas to accept the deal.” 

Yet Hamas seems to have little incentive to do so. As prospects for success increasingly dim, the White House is reportedly preparing a plan-B that would entail a seperate Washington deal with Hamas and bypass Israel. Under that scheme, five hostages who are American citizens would be released alongside bodies of three dead Americans kidnapped by Hamas on October 7.  

Why would Hamas agree to such a scheme? Because it “would likely further strain relations between the U.S. and Israel and put additional domestic political pressure on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu,” one unidentified administration official told NBC News. 

While visiting Egypt Monday, Secretary Blinken declined to comment on the NBC report. He later flew to Israel for a meeting with Mr. Netanyahu. In both countries Mr. Blinken argued that Mr. Biden’s deal is “the most effective way” to achieve a cease-fire and the release of all hostages. 

Yet, Mr. Netanyahu’s Likud party members and others in Israel are skeptical. “This is not a deal, this is a joke,” the minister of diaspora affairs, Amichai Chikli, told an international forum, adding on Kan News that many fellow Likud ministers agree with him. 

The American resolution calls on Hamas to accept the deal, but the pressure is on Jerusalem, other Israelis say.

The text “puts words in Israel’s mouth, and adds extra pressure on Israel,” a former Israeli ambassador to the UN, Deniel Carmon, tells the Sun. Unlike Israel, he notes, Hamas is a terror organization that has no obligation to obey UN resolutions. 

In proposing a resolution at the UN, Mr Carmon adds, Washington has reversed a traditional process. The parties normally first agree on a diplomatic pact, and only then the council endorses it. 

As it is, it is mostly pressuring Israel. Even worse, the council resolution places a cease-fire and an end to war as top priorities. A hostage release is not even mentioned in its first paragraphs, and seems to be an afterthought.  

“That sequence is bad for Israel,” Mr. Carmon, who volunteers as a diplomatic adviser to a hostage release advocacy group known as the Hostages and Missing Families Forum, says.

The resolution describes Mr. Biden’s deal in three phases. In the first six-week stage, an unspecified number of women, the elderly, and wounded hostages would be released. In that period all hostilities cease, Israel withdraws from urban centers, uprooted Gazans return home, hundreds of terrorists are released from Israeli prisons, and humanitarian aid to Gaza is amped up.  

In the second stage the parties negotiate a permanent ceasefire and the release of remaining hostages. The third stage envisions Gaza reconstruction and the return of bodies of dead hostages. A new paragraph was inserted at the last minute that would allow Hamas to forever negotiate the first stage, while Israel is forced to suspend its pursuit of the terrorists. 

“If negotiations take longer than six weeks for phase one, the cease-fire will still continue as long as negotiations continue,” it says. The resolution also bans any Israeli security zone in Gaza to prevent Hamas from infiltrating Israel.

As Ms. Thomas-Greenfield noted, Mr. Biden has said that Hamas is no longer capable of repeating its October 7 atrocities. That, though, is far from how most Israelis see it. The UN resolution is unlikely to enhance Israel’s security, and is even less likely improve the lives of Gazans. 

The New York Sun

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