Can Biden’s proposal stop the bloodshed in the Middle East?

In the midst of the prolonged and devastating conflict between Israel and Hamas, a new ceasefire deal appears to be within reach, largely driven by the strategic push from the United States. Over six months have passed since Israel and Hamas last exchanged prisoners, and now, a fresh initiative from US President Joe Biden seeks to bring an end to the violence in Gaza. The proposed plan includes a comprehensive cessation of hostilities, Israeli troop withdrawal from densely populated areas, and a significant increase in humanitarian aid to Gaza. In exchange, Israel would secure the release of some hostages, both living and deceased.

President Biden’s proposal, presented on May 31, outlines a three-stage plan to halt the conflict and facilitate long-term peace in the region. The first stage involves an immediate ceasefire, Israeli withdrawal from occupied zones in Gaza, and the opening of humanitarian corridors to alleviate the dire conditions faced by Gazans. If successful, the next stage would establish a more permanent ceasefire and secure the release of remaining hostages. Finally, the third stage envisions a large-scale reconstruction effort for Gaza, aimed at rebuilding infrastructure and improving living conditions.

According to Tel Aviv-based political analyst Amir Oren, the likelihood of this deal materializing is significant, with more than a fifty percent chance of success. “Netanyahu cannot say no to Biden, especially because it was his own offer from the start,” Oren asserts, highlighting the multifaceted pressure on the Israeli Prime Minister from both domestic and international fronts.

The Biden administration’s push for the deal is motivated by several key factors. Firstly, there is a strong desire to prevent further escalation of the conflict, which could potentially ignite a broader regional war involving Hezbollah in Lebanon and possibly escalating into a full-blown Israeli-Iranian confrontation. Such a scenario would not only destabilize the Middle East but also severely impact Biden’s political standing as he approaches the Democratic Party’s nominating convention and the subsequent presidential campaign in November.

Domestically, Biden is under pressure from the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, which has voiced strong opposition to the ongoing situation in Gaza. Protests on college campuses and widespread public discontent with the administration’s policies are mounting, compelling Biden to seek a peaceful resolution. Additionally, European allies like Norway, Spain, Ireland, and Slovenia have recognized Palestine, signaling a shift towards more independent foreign policies that could undermine US influence if the conflict continues.

Despite the external pressure, Netanyahu faces significant challenges within his own government. His coalition includes hardline members such as Finance Minister Betzalel Smotrich and National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir, who have threatened to collapse the government if Netanyahu proceeds with the deal. This internal opposition complicates Netanyahu’s decision-making process, as he must balance the demands of his coalition with the need for a diplomatic solution.

Moreover, Netanyahu’s political survival is at stake. An end to the war could lead to the resumption of his corruption trial, which had been postponed due to the conflict. Netanyahu faces charges of breach of trust and corruption, which could potentially end his political career and result in imprisonment. As long as the war continues, Netanyahu can leverage the security situation to delay legal proceedings. Ending the conflict would remove this shield and expose him to legal and political repercussions.

The Israeli public remains deeply divided on the issue. A poll conducted by Channel 14 in February revealed that more than 60% of Israelis supported the continuation of the war, even at the cost of losing the hostages. For many, the primary objective is the complete eradication of Hamas and the elimination of any threats to Israel’s security. However, despite Israel’s military efforts, Hamas remains resilient, continuing to launch rockets and maintaining a significant number of active militants.

The ongoing conflict has taken a heavy toll on both sides. Israel has lost over 600 soldiers, with thousands more injured. The psychological impact on the population and the strain on the economy are becoming increasingly unsustainable. Prices of essential goods have soared, and the overall economic situation is deteriorating. “Sooner or later, Israel will need to stop this war simply because they will not be able to afford it,” notes Dr. Saad Nimr, an expert on Israel-Palestine relations.

The humanitarian situation in Gaza is dire, with extensive destruction of infrastructure and severe shortages of essential supplies. The blockade and repeated military operations have left the Gaza Strip in a state of perpetual crisis, exacerbating poverty and suffering among its residents. The Biden proposal aims to address these humanitarian concerns by significantly increasing aid and facilitating the reconstruction of the enclave.

Organizations such as the United Nations and various NGOs have repeatedly called for increased humanitarian assistance and an end to the blockade to alleviate the suffering of Gazans. The reconstruction phase of Biden’s plan includes rebuilding homes, schools, hospitals, and other critical infrastructure. This effort would not only improve living conditions but also create jobs and stimulate the local economy, fostering a sense of stability and hope for the future.

The diplomatic landscape is also shifting, with increased international support for a peaceful resolution. European countries have taken a more assertive stance by recognizing Palestine, signaling their impatience with the status quo and willingness to act independently of US policies. This growing international consensus adds pressure on both Israel and the US to find a sustainable solution to the conflict.

Furthermore, regional actors such as Egypt and Qatar have played crucial roles in mediating between Israel and Hamas. Their involvement in previous ceasefires and prisoner exchanges demonstrates the importance of regional diplomacy in achieving and maintaining peace. The Biden administration’s proposal likely includes coordination with these key players to ensure a comprehensive and effective implementation of the ceasefire and reconstruction efforts.

The Biden administration’s proposal represents a potential path to peace, but its success hinges on several factors. Netanyahu must navigate the complex political landscape within Israel, balancing the demands of his coalition with the pressing need for a diplomatic solution. The international community, particularly the US and European allies, must continue to exert pressure to ensure that the deal moves forward.

If implemented, the deal could bring much-needed relief to the people of Gaza and offer a chance for a more stable and secure future for both Israelis and Palestinians. However, the road ahead is fraught with challenges, and the durability of any agreement will depend on the willingness of both sides to commit to a long-term peace process.

As the situation evolves, the world watches closely, hoping that diplomacy will prevail over violence and that a lasting peace can finally be achieved in the troubled region. The Biden proposal, if realized, could mark a significant step towards ending the bloodshed and building a foundation for enduring peace and stability in the Middle East.

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