Fri 21 Jun 2024 5:13 pm - Jerusalem Time

American officials do not see a way forward to end the war in Gaza

Officials in the Biden administration are increasingly skeptical that Israel and Hamas will reach a comprehensive ceasefire agreement under the current framework, according to four US officials familiar with the negotiations, Politico reported Thursday.

In response to a question directed to him by’s correspondent regarding what Politico attributed to the pessimism of American officials who do not see a path before them towards a ceasefire and an end to the war, Matthew Miller, the official spokesman for the State Department, said on Thursday that he does not know who They are these officials, and that the media “uses unknown sources to promote an idea or a rumor, but let me say that there is a clear path towards a ceasefire and ending the war, and that is in the hands of Hamas,” referring to the proposal made by US President Joe Biden on May 31. Last, the UN Security Council voted in favor of the proposal on June 10 with a majority of 14 votes, with Russia abstaining from voting.

The agreement, if approved, is supposed to be completed in three stages. The first phase halts fighting for six weeks, allowing the withdrawal of Israeli forces from populated areas in Gaza, the release of hostages and the release of Palestinian prisoners. In the second phase, Israel and Hamas are supposed to try to negotiate an end to all hostilities and the release of the remaining hostages. The reconstruction of Gaza will also take place in the third phase.

According to experts, both Israel and Hamas generally agree to the terms set out in the first phase, but are at odds over how to formally end the war, according to two officials, who, like the others, were granted anonymity to speak freely about the sensitive negotiations. Despite initial optimism about the deal, officials now believe these disagreements could upend the entire agreement.

One official told POLITICO that the second phase is “the sticking point.” “If the first phase could have been implemented alone without the complications of the second phase, it would have been completed by now.”

Hamas demands that Israel agree to a complete withdrawal from Gaza. But Israeli officials said that they would not agree to a complete withdrawal from the Gaza Strip until its forces completely dismantled Hamas - a goal stated by the Israeli army spokesman, Daniel Hagari, who considered that talk of annihilating Hamas is ashes of dust in the eyes of the Israeli public, which he considers Experts said it came to block attempts to hold the army fully responsible for failing to achieve the goals of the war.

“Hamas is an idea and a movement implanted in people’s hearts, and whoever thinks he can hide Hamas is wrong,” Hagari said. However, this confession, according to experts, results from the failure of the occupation army, armed with its most powerful war machines, in the face of the Palestinian resistance.

Hamas is not expected to sign any part of the deal until Israel agrees to its demands. In effect, Hamas has given an “all or nothing” ultimatum that Israel is unlikely to agree to. Neither side has shown signs of being willing to compromise, worrying Biden officials that the fighting will drag on for months longer.

“I think this will continue until at least the end of 2024,” one official told POLITICO.

This situation has frustrated humanitarian organizations, many of which have been briefed by the administration on the current negotiating status. They say they cannot effectively help Palestinian citizens of Gaza without a cessation of fighting, and that “a truce is the only way to ensure that people on the ground have continuous access to the food and medical aid they need.” “It's sorely needed,” Miller said.

A representative of one of the main relief organizations working in Gaza said: “The American administration is putting strong pressure on both Israel and Hamas to agree to the deal, but everything seems to be on hold at the moment.”

US officials estimate that even if Hamas and Israel reach an initial short-term ceasefire agreement, there is a high probability that this agreement will collapse. The ceasefire has a history of collapsing in Gaza during wartime, and both sides are firm on their terms for ending the war under the second phase of the deal.

The Biden administration has spent the past few weeks trying to broker an agreement between Israel and Hamas. Senior officials have traveled to Israel and Doha to try to reach a solution. They are now publicly blaming Hamas and holding it responsible for "creating obstacles to peace," according to Miller.

Hamas submitted amendments to the three-stage agreement. Jake Sullivan, the US President's National Security Advisor, said that some of these amendments are likely to be acceptable.

Officials did not clarify what specifically Israel agreed to, and how Hamas wants to change the details of the deal currently on the table. But officials are not optimistic that the two sides will be able to resolve their differences quickly.


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American officials do not see a way forward to end the war in Gaza