Washington Claims To Back Israeli Proposal on Hamas War, but Israel Not on Board With Latest Version

The quick turn-around from what was originally presented as an Israel initiative to one that Israel merely ‘accepts’ — and that it must be urged to implement — is raising eyebrows at Jerusalem.

President Biden on March 8, 2024, at Wallingford, Pennsylvania, and Prime Minister Netanyahu at Tel Aviv, October 28, 2023. AP

President Biden’s initial claim that he would be pressuring Hamas to agree to a Gaza cease-fire and hostage release is now turning into a pressure campaign on “both sides.” Contradicting itself, Washington is now urging Israel to implement what it insists is an “Israeli proposal.”

In an additional effort to pressure Israel, which is under multi-front attacks, Washington is calling on Jerusalem to refrain from operating in Lebanon, the country from which Hezbollah is significantly escalating an assault on northern Israel. 

A new American proposal for a United Nations resolution contains a passage that reiterates an “unwavering commitment” to the vision of a new state that would unify the West Bank and Gaza “under the Palestinian Authority.”

While a call for a state under the PA is an anathema to Prime Minister Netanyahu’s government, it seems designed to appeal to Arab allies. Yet, last month, as Secretary Blinken convened Arab diplomats at Riyadh, a United Arab Emirates representative scoffed at the Palestinian envoy, Axios reports. 

Highlighting the PA’s ineffective ways and its corruption, the UAE’s foreign minister, Abdullah bin Zayed, shouted at the Palestinian envoy, and said Ramallah is like “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves.”   

Last Friday, Mr. Biden publicized an Israeli proposal for a Gaza deal. On Monday the American ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, distributed to Security Council members a proposed resolution that would anchor Mr. Biden’s speech in international law. 

On Thursday, Washington handed out a new version of the UN proposal that differed from the original on several points.

In the first proposal, Hamas was called upon to accept the deal “fully, and implement its terms without delay and without condition.” The new version claims the deal “is acceptable to Israel,” calls on Hamas “to also accept it,” and “urges both parties to fully implement its terms without delay and without condition.”

The quick turn-around from what was originally presented as an Israel initiative to one that Israel merely “accepts” — and that it must be urged to implement — is raising eyebrows at Jerusalem. Even worse, the U.S. proposal equates an American democratic ally to a terrorist organization, as designated by the Department of State.

Additionally, Mr. Biden is pushing Israel to hold back on another front. Two Israelis were killed Wednesday by Hezbollah drones launched at the Druze town of Horfeish. Earlier, acres of forest and fields, as well as city dwellings, were set on fire as Hezbollah launched dozens of missiles, mortars, and killer drones at the Galilee. 

Mr. Netanyahu said that “one way or another” Israel would put an end to the Hezbollah attacks. America and France are urging Israel to give diplomacy a chance. Yet, Hezbollah has ignored pleas from diplomats, including the White House’s top Mideast adviser, Amos Hochstein. Instead, it is scaling up and deepening the scope of attack in northern Israel. 

Mr. Biden is now reportedly cautioning the Netanyahu government against even limited military action in Lebanon, for fear that it would ignite a region-wide war. Even a “limited war” in Lebanon could push the Islamic Republic of Iran to intervene, Axios quotes American officials as saying. 

After October 7, Washington cautioned against an Israeli ground invasion of Gaza. Following the invasion, it constantly told Israelis to slow down the war, culminating in a well-advertised demand to let the remaining organized Hamas battalions survive at Rafah. Now, Mr. Biden is pressuring Israel with UN action. 

Israel’s UN ambassador, Gilad Erdan, is pushing back against several points in the proposed American resolution, diplomats at the UN tell the Sun. He informed Ms. Thomas-Greenfield that “Jerusalem opposes the Security Council resolution,” the Times of Israel reports. 

The new text fleshes out details that did not exist in the original American UN proposal. They confirm what Mr. Netanyahu said were “incomplete” points in Mr. Biden’s characterization of the Israeli proposal.  

Mr. Netanyahu vowed to push the war until Hamas is defeated. The new American UN text, in contrast, claims the deal entails a “permanent end to hostilities, in exchange for the release of all other hostages still in Gaza, and a full withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza.”

While European countries have endorsed the deal as Mr. Biden characterized it, Hamas is sending mixed messages. It “has rejected the document Israel submitted,” a Saudi news channel, A-Sharq, reported Thursday. As of yet, however, there is no official Hamas response to the deal. 

The terrorist organization seems to be counting on America to continually tweak the terms and pressure Israel until the deal completely fits Hamas’s goals. Dangling the prospect of hostage release, Hamas aims to end the war in an Israeli defeat, survive as the uncontested ruler of Gaza, and ensure the flow of global aid that would free it to rearm.

The New York Sun

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