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Biden Sends Hostage Deal to Jerusalem as Israeli Support May Be Called into Question

Joe Biden delivers remarks on the Israel-Hamas war on May 31. AP
Joe Biden delivers remarks on the Israel-Hamas war on May 31. AP

On the eve of Friday’s Jewish Sabbath, President Joe Biden presented a proposal to release the Israeli captives held by the Hamas terrorist organization and end the current hostilities in Gaza.

In a 15-minute speech, the president presented a three-phase program that he claimed will “bring all the hostages home, ensure Israel’s security, create a better day after in Gaza without Hamas in power, and set the stage for a political settlement that provides a better future for Israelis and Palestinians alike.”

Biden described the first part of the plan as one that will last for six weeks and include a full cessation of hostilities, the withdrawal of Israeli military forces from Gaza’s urban areas, the release of vulnerable and American hostages, and the freeing of several hundred Palestinian security prisoners from Israeli custody.

At the conclusion of the first phase, Hamas would be required to release the balance of any living detainees, in exchange for Israel’s disengagement of ground units to within its borders.

Finally, the international community would commence reconstruction efforts in the coastal enclave.

In a statement on the matter, Hamas officials described the offer “positively” and called on Jerusalem to confirm their commitment to the accord.

On Saturday, the office of Israel’s prime minister expressed some doubts about their acceptance of the agreement but appeared to show some support for it the following day.

In a Sunday interview with the British Sunday Times, an aide to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu conceded that the effort was "a deal we agreed to; it's not a good deal, but we dearly want the hostages released, all of them," while reaffirming the Jewish state’s commitment to "the destruction of Hamas as a genocidal terrorist organization."

One potential roadblock to the measure’s implementation could come from members of Netanyahu’s government, especially the lawmakers from the Religious Zionism and Otzma Yehudit parties, who have threatened to collapse the narrow coalition if Hamas’s military and governing functions are not eliminated.

Resistance from nationalist elements in the Knesset also comes as a main centrist rival to Netanyahu, Benny Gantz, has threatened to call for new elections if no progress on the hostage situation is made by June 8.

There have also been reports of disagreements over calls to stop the military operations in Gaza from the country’s war cabinet, with Israel’s Kan public broadcaster reporting last week that many of the committee’s members view a suspension of fighting as a surrender to the perpetrators of the October 7 massacre.

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