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Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Strategic Alliances for a Secure, Connected, and Prosperous Region

Biden’s “Peace Now” Plan

Filed under: Operation Swords of Iron, U.S. Policy

Biden’s “Peace Now” Plan

U.S. President Joe Biden’s speech on May 31, 2024, laid out his vision to end the Hamas-Israel war, Israel’s most protracted conflict since its War of Independence.1 The three-stage U.S. plan reflects an American interest in ending the fighting. However, its message, incredibly admonishing Israel equally to Hamas, emboldens the terrorist organization, Hizbullah, and Iran and serves to weaken Israel profoundly in public perception. In the Middle East, perception is essential, and the U.S. position appears to back Hamas’s ultimate control in Gaza while leaving Israelis vulnerable to more extensive and more lethal assaults.

Biden’s “cessation of hostilities,” “road map,” and “peace plan” attempted to inculcate Israelis with another false conceptzia [false assumption], reminiscent of the belief in 2023 that Hamas sought coexistence and the Oslo Peace Accords of the 1990s would bring peace. Biden’s 15-minute summary statement concluded, “Everyone who wants peace now must raise their voices and let the leaders know they should take this deal.”

Biden’s “Peace Now” approach echoes Israel’s failed far-left “Peace Now” movement that led to the fatal Oslo two-state experiment that exploded in the October 7 Gaza atrocities and served as the catalyst for hostilities from Beirut, to the Golan, to the Red Sea, and even to Iranian rocket launchers aimed at Israel.

The U.S. plan ignores the imminent dangers of the strategic and existential threat posed by Hizbullah to Israel’s north, an area already evacuated by 100,000 Israelis. Iran’s Hizbullah and Houthi proxies would be encouraged by Israeli submission to Hamas with an immediate ceasefire for six weeks. The Biden plan provides no guarantee of a more comprehensive regional cease-fire. Like the Oslo process, Biden’s “Peace Now” plan has no end of conflict in sight.

Who Is at Fault?

Over the course of the Hamas war, the Biden administration has repeatedly admonished Israel over its retaliation (“take the win”), the use of precision munitions, the attack on Rafah, and civilian casualties based on Hamas’s exaggerated figures. Now, too, Biden’s plan publicly admonishes Israel rather than standing with its regional ally. Biden’s even-handed treatment of Hamas and Israel engenders a moral equivalence between a jihadist organization and a democratic ally.

Repeating the Oslo period fata morgana, Biden laid out his grand vision for peace as if the two sides in the Gaza war are playing by the same rules. The American administration plan suggests negotiations with an ISIS-like terror organization just eight months after it massacred 1,300 civilians in Israel and raped and abducted hundreds more.

The first phase of the plan calls for the trade only of some live hostages and some of the dead hostages’ remains in exchange for hundreds of Palestinian security prisoners. Hamas’s psychopathic leader, Yahya Sinwar, and some 1,000 Palestinian prisoners were exchanged in the Gilad Shalit deal in 2011.

Biden’s moral equivalence weakens Israel in the West as well as in the Middle East, strengthens Hamas and other Iranian proxies, and encourages more attacks on Israel and other Western targets with greater energy and confidence.

This false moral equivalence also extends to Qatar, Biden’s mediator and ally. “Egypt and Qatar have assured me,” the president said, “that they are continuing to work to ensure that Hamas [is held] accountable for its obligations.” Biden vowed, in a statement of moral equivalence and a hint of distrust of Israel, “The United States will help ensure that Israel lives up to its obligations as well.”

Qatar is Hamas. The sheikhdom supports the jihadi Muslim Brotherhood, funds Hamas terrorism, and is home to Hamas’s political leadership. Qatar is behind the Islamist propaganda war against Israel and the West via its global media conglomerate, Al Jazeera, and the radicalization of higher education in both curriculum and student activism in the West and elsewhere. Qatar is part of the problem, and by suggesting it mediate between Hamas and Israel, Biden co-mingles enemies and allies.

Beyond its conceptual faults, Biden’s plan raises more questions than solutions.

Its proposed Stage One ceasefire would save thousands of remaining Hamas fighters and leadership who hide in tunnels in the Gaza Strip. As of now, only 30 to 35 percent of Hamas fighters have been eliminated, and 65 percent of its underground tunnels remain intact, according to American intelligence assessments. During humanitarian pauses in hostilities on Israel’s side since October 7, demanded by the West and the international community, hundreds of Hamas rockets continued to rain down on Israeli population centers.

The call for an immediate ceasefire will only reassure Hamas of its “Allahu Akbar eternal life” and grant it legitimacy to extend the cease-fire for months or years while it rearms and reasserts power. With two-thirds of Hamas fighters and leaders still active, how would the plan end Hamas’s rule?

What happens in Biden’s proposed plan during its “Second Stage” is also unclear if the two sides fail to agree, with Israel still committed to a ceasefire. In such a case, Hamas’s attacks would likely continue indeterminately, continuing its strategy of attrition.

The U.S. administration plan puts more pressure on Israel than on Hamas. Israel, as a democratic country, is under the unrelenting hyper-scrutiny of the international community – the United Nations, the International Criminal Court, and the International Court of Justice. In contrast, Hamas remains untethered and uncommitted to any rules-based order. This asymmetrical situation leaves Hamas to do as it chooses while tying Israel’s hands in the international legal and diplomatic community, which has already determined brazenly and baselessly that de facto, Israel has become Hamas, and Hamas has become Israel.

Regionally, by applying public pressure on Israel, the plan conveys the message to the Middle East, from Riyadh to Tehran, that America is reining in Israel while releasing Hamas to continue attacking as a military and political terror force. Arab interlocutors have told this author that without the clear defeat of Hamas and Israeli control in Gaza, no viable “day after” alternative is possible.

What Arab state (Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, or others) would participate in a “day after” plan while Hamas is still in the driver’s seat? This would be the case should the U.S. plan be implemented.

Despite the President’s declaration that his “Peace Now” deal would be part of a regional security network to counter Iran, the opposite is true. If Israel is unable to defeat Hamas decisively, it would not be considered a regional security anchor against Iran, Hizbullah, Iran, and other terror proxies.

Some have argued that Biden’s plan has Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s tacit agreement. This seems unlikely since the U.S. plan contradicts the security and strategic principles Netanyahu has espoused for the past eight months. It also rejects those principles that a majority of Israelis support: the defeat of Hamas in Gaza, the control of Rafah crossings, and the return of all hostages as a precondition to any arrangement with Hamas.

The majority of Israelis understand that defeating Hamas as a military and political power is an unconditional requirement for returning hostages and guaranteeing Israel’s survival in the Middle East made unstable by an assertive nuclearizing Iranian regime and ascendant radical Islamic jihad proxies dedicated to preventing “The day after.”

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