Netanyahu Questions Biden’s Ceasefire Plan, Says It Supports Hamas

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declined Friday to confirm or deny explicitly U.S. President Joe Biden’s claim that Israel had proposed a deal for a ceasefire and hostage release that would keep Hamas armed and in power in Gaza.

On Friday, as reported, Biden proposed a three-part deal similar to proposals that Hamas had rejected in the past. The proposal never mentioned disarming Hamas and would effectively leave Hamas in power.

The timing of Biden’s proposal coincided with the onset of the Jewish Sabbath in Israel, making it impossible for religious parties to respond. Netanyahu is not strictly observant but tends to avoid statements on the Sabbath.

In a statement late Friday night Israel time, Netanyahu responded to Biden without confirming or denying that Israel had proposed the deal Biden had described:

The Government of Israel is united in its desire to return the hostages as soon as possible and is working to achieve this goal. The Prime Minister authorized the negotiating team to present a proposal to that end, which would also enable Israel to continue the war until all its objectives are achieved, including the destruction of Hamas’s military and governing capabilities. The actual proposal put forward by Israel, including the conditional transition from one phase to the next, allows Israel to uphold these principles.

The two proposals — Biden’s version and Netanyahu’s version — differ explicitly over the question of destroying Hamas, which Biden’s proposal completely ignores.

It is possible that Biden mischaracterized Israel’s proposals to put pressure on Israel. (One possible “tell” is Biden giving credit to Israel for a “roadmap”; Biden has criticized Israel for months for failing to provide a postwar plan.)

The Biden announcement Friday would appear to be a repeated use of the same technique — a media announcement of a proposed deal that Israel has not made, with the aim of enticing Hamas to agree and pressuring Israel to accept.

Update: Hamas welcomed Biden’s proposal:

Update: Former President Barack Obama endorsed the proposal — and claimed it was Biden’s proposal, not Israel’s: “Today, President Biden put forward a clear, realistic and just plan to establish an immediate ceasefire and end the war in Gaza … I am deeply encouraged by the steady, tireless efforts of President Biden.”

This post has been updated.

Joel B. Pollak
Joel B. Pollak
South African-American conservative political commentator, writer, radio host, and attorney.

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