Biden Endorses Ceasefire, Phased Plan for Gaza

The President declares Hamas "no longer capable" of large-scale attack.

Flags of Israel and Palestine painted on the concrete wall with soldier shadow. Gaza and Israel conflict

AP (“Biden details a 3-phase hostage deal aimed at winding down the Israel-Hamas war“):

President Joe Biden on Friday detailed a three-phase deal proposed by Israel to Hamas militants that he says would lead to the release of the remaining hostages in Gaza and could end the grinding, nearly 8-month-old Mideast war.

Biden added that Hamas is “no longer capable” of carrying out another large-scale attack on Israel as he urged Israelis and Hamas to come to a deal to release the remaining hostages for an extended cease-fire.

The Democratic president in remarks from the White House called the proposal “a road map to an enduring cease-fire and the release of all hostages.”

Biden said the first phase of the proposed deal would would last for six weeks and would include a “full and complete cease-fire,” a withdrawal of Israeli forces from all densely populated areas of Gaza and the release of a number of hostages, including women, the elderly and the wounded, in exchange for the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners.

American hostages would be released at this stage, and remains of hostages who have been killed would be returned to their families. Humanitarian assistance would surge during the first phase, with 600 trucks being allowed into Gaza each day.

The second phase would include the release of all remaining living hostages, including male soldiers, and Israeli forces would withdraw from Gaza.

“And as long as Hamas lives up to its commitments, the temporary cease-fire would become, in the words of the Israeli proposal, ‘the cessation of hostilities permanently,’” Biden said.

The third phase calls for the start of a major reconstruction of Gaza, which faces decades of rebuilding from devastation caused by the war. The 4-1/2 page Israeli proposal was transmitted to Hamas on Thursday.

NYT (“Biden Endorses Israeli Road Map for a Cease-Fire in Gaza“) adds:

“It’s time for this war to end, for the day after to begin,” Mr. Biden said, speaking from the State Dining Room at the White House.


“This is truly a decisive moment,” Mr. Biden said. “Israel has made their proposal. Hamas says it wants a cease-fire. This deal is an opportunity to prove whether they really mean it.”

With that statement, Mr. Biden appeared to be revealing his true agenda: making public elements of the proposal in an effort to pressure both Hamas and Israel to break out of a monthslong deadlock that has resulted in the killing of thousands of Palestinians.

American officials have described Hamas’s leader, Yahya Sinwar, as interested only in his own survival and that of his family and inner circle, as they presumably operate from tunnels deep under southern Gaza. But officials have also said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel has little incentive to move to a real cease-fire, because of the widespread belief in Israel that as soon as the surviving hostages are returned, and a last cease-fire begins, he will most likely lose his fragile hold on power.

Mr. Biden’s remarks came at a pivotal moment in his re-election campaign, a day after his rival, former President Donald J. Trump, was convicted of 34 felony charges. At the same time, he has been facing growing pressure at home over the bloodshed in Gaza, which has led to eruptions on college campuses and on the streets of American cities, and alienated many of his own supporters.


Hints of differences came almost as soon as Mr. Biden finished speaking. Following his speech, the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office said the Israeli government was “united in the desire to bring home our hostages as soon as possible.”

But it added that Mr. Netanyahu had stipulated to Israeli negotiators that they could not reach a deal that would end the war before all their goals were achieved, including the destruction of Hamas’s military and governing capacities in Gaza.

“The exact outline that Israel has offered — including the conditional progression from stage to stage — enables Israel to maintain that principle,” Mr. Netanyahu’s office said.

Hamas reacted positively to Mr. Biden’s speech in a statement on social media, saying that it was willing to deal “constructively” with any cease-fire proposal based on a permanent truce, the complete withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza, the return of displaced Palestinians to their homes and a “serious prisoner exchange.”

Stipulating that I don’t get the Presidential Daily Brief, I’m extremely skeptical of the bold assertion that Hamas is “no longer capable” of carrying out another October 7-style attack. Indeed, I question the wisdom of saying it even if our intelligence community assesses it to be true, given the outrage that would follow if it proves incorrect.

It’s also interesting that this is widely described as an Israeli proposal being endorsed by Biden, even though it’s clear Netanyahu himself doesn’t fully support it. Absent some sort of demobilization and demilitarization plan, I honestly don’t know why the Israeli government would buy off on this. It ends the conflict and gets the hostages back but does nothing to ensure that Hamas doesn’t regroup and re-attack at some point in the near future.

The Biden administration, along with most of the international community and a sizable chunk of the Israeli population, want the war over. Certainly, all of us want the killing of Palestinian civilians to end. But a cessation of conflict that doesn’t come with a resolution of the underlying grievances and that leaves the Hamas leadership in place isn’t a better state of the peace; it’s just a temporary respite from the fighting that gives Hamas a breather.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Michael Reynolds says:

    Joe’s pulling a fast one, redefining Israel’s war aims. It’s a bluff, but from our POV worth trying. Our interest is in having Gaza off the radar before election day. Bibi’s insisting on his original goal of exterminating Hamas. The deciders will be the Israeli public.

  2. Lounsbury says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Netanyahu is insisting on his sole goal of putting off any conflict resolution to avoid legal and political consequences. The extermination of Hamas is a phrase on the order of “ending poverty.” A slogan. Elimination of Hamas is not his actual goal – and a functionally impossible goal sans complete ethnic cleansing (which indeed is an objective of his supporting coalition members).

    (and of course this ongoing execution of drip drip annexation rather clearly indicates the real agenda:

  3. Gustopher says:

    does nothing to ensure that Hamas doesn’t regroup and re-attack at some point in the near future.

    What would ensure that Hamas cannot regroup and reattack?

    Hamas, or its functional equivalent, can be disrupted by military strikes, but not really destroyed.

    Even if Jewish Space Lasers were to evaporate every member of Hamas, without a negotiated peace that leads to a new status quo that the Palestinians can live with, there’s just going to be Hamas 2.0, started by three guys and a shovel digging terror tunnels.

    That said, I don’t think this proposed ceasefire can hold without Israel at least suggesting what this new status quo looks like. Something that shows that they have some vision for the future that isn’t just the pre-Oct7 status quo except magically without Hamas or Hamas 2.0. Some starting point for negotiations.

    But even a failed cease fire that holds long enough to get some food in would be better than what’s going on right now.

  4. Michael Reynolds says:

    Yes, Netanyahu is Trump with a circumcision, a crook hoping to leverage political power to stay out of prison. Interesting that he’s being rather sotto voce in response to this move. Interesting as well that we don’t seem to know who in Israel proposed this deal. Mossad? The IDF? Not lefties, or Netanyahu would have yelled rather than mutter.

    The question now is whether Israelis have reached a level of war weariness where they’re ready for a temporary off-ramp.

  5. Lounsbury says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Netanyahu is vastly more competent than Trump.

    In the meantime unless there is change, Israeli will continue to inexorably walk towards either being a mini apartheid state or to an ironic rerun of a lebensraum im Osten seeking state rooted in ethno-religious exclusionariary foundationalism.

  6. Michael Reynolds says:

    Only with the utmost self-discipline do I resist suggesting that

    with a circumcision

    implies greater competence. The term ‘goyishe kop’ leaps to mind, but it would be wrong of me to suggest that no Jew would be stupid enough to, for example, overrule his lawyers in a criminal trial and attack a sentencing judge before sentencing.

  7. Lounsbury says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Beni Adam Beni Adam, Trump’s gross incompétence outside a his expertise in selling to the rubes should not be imputed on his ethnicity nor religion of course. Being of some theoretical appartence to a circumcision sect, I wouldn’t ever desire to impute competence to that.

    One can merely hope his animal cunning does not sway enough votes in the right electoral geographies to return him.

    In the meantime while not being enamoured of the US policy for this région, Biden splitting the baby is the best that can be hoped for, the naïve American Uni protestors quite aside, but the USA uni Left produces what one would expect.

  8. Lounsbury says:

    Entre temps, I will note I had recently shared with me a tender being issued by the USA for the Territories, as it evokes, private capital and investment funds mobilisation, and I have had the unique historical “pleasure” of being in a VC invested in the Territory not Ghaza…. Evocation of private FDI and investment funds I order of USD 100 mln… I suppose cubicle people writing.

    Evidently the Biden Administration wishes to have a plan in place. Sadly it gave the feeling of déjà vu from my Iraq fund days and the American bureaucracy being unable not to lard in Little America, or perhaps Little DC création agenda.

  9. Andy says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    This seems to be an Israeli plan, but one Netanyahu wants to distance himself from because it won’t be a popular plan, assuming Hamas accepts the framework and the details work out, which is far from certain as they’ve rejected all previous proposals from Israel so far.

    Assuming something like this deal goes through, it means a lot of people died for nothing. Hamas will return to running Gaza which means that it will control the aid and the reconstruction effort which will obviously empower Hamas as it bleeds off resources, as it has always done in the past.

    With Hamas managing the reconstruction, the tunnel system will be rebuilt, with the system now integrated into the new buildings, along with fighting positions, rocket launch positions, etc. By this point, the latent and not-so-latent anti-Semites in the West who don’t care much about Palestinians but care very much about making Israel a pariah will not longer be focused on what’s going on and will not care about anything Hamas is doing – just as has been the case previously.

    And from Israel’s seizure of the Rafah crossing and discovery of dozens of smuggling tunnels to Egypt, it’s pretty clear that Egypt can’t or won’t be able to stop weapons heading into the strip and Hamas rearming.

    So, it’s likely to be the status quo ante, except the leadership of Hamas will see this as a strategic win. They don’t care much about the little people dying as martyrs, there are plenty to replace them. They have patrons to replace arms. Their information operations have been so successful that Hamas is blamed for very little of the death toll in the war or when it turns out that Hamas is responsible, no one cares. Quite remarkable, but perhaps not surprising considering the level anti-Semitism, both latent and overt, that’s come out since 10/7, the norming of openly pro-Hamas viewpoints, the ongoing structural racism of international institutions when it comes to Israel, etc.

    The sad irony is that all this will probably just serve to strengthen the right wing in Israel. Gantz has already fallen in the polls. Israel’s enemies keep, intentionally or not, trying to save Bibi and the right wing.

    The other irony is that the lesson Netanyahu learned from the intervention in Lebanon and other wars that didn’t go as Israel hoped is that war is a loser. He’s never been a military man and wanted to avoid anything but quick raids and strikes. That’s why he’s long been skeptical of using military force and has preferred to play political games, such as playing Hamas, the PA, and other Palestinian factions off of each other. Since neither of those strategies has exactly worked out for Israel, it’s probably time for a plan C.

    Anyway, I leave in a few hours for Europe for a few weeks to attend a wedding and do some business and vacationing, so I will not be online much. Hope you all have a good June.

  10. Lounsbury says:

    @Andy: The rather too prevalent American blanket attribution of criticism of Israël to antisémitism , as this is, quite the action falling for own side agitprop.

    Europe certainly took rather different lessons from both WWII and then the decolonisation process.

    Rather than réflexive evocation of antisémitisme currents, one can more profitably understand réactions as heavily driven by Israël itself and the conduct of the autistic conduct past months, as it is quite evident that the Israeli government has no actual intention nor interest in addressing the political failure of permanent occupation and creeping annexation in the West Bank with contigent squeeze into the Zone A bantustans.

    This is producing réactions and despair.

    But Americans hand waive away with the omni explanation of antisemitism which of course does exist as well.

    The Irish led move is rooted in that, andI rather applaud the cousins, as the the American demarches have failed

  11. just nutha says:

    @Andy: Enjoy your trip!

  12. Gustopher says:


    Assuming something like this deal goes through, it means a lot of people died for nothing.

    And this is why a whole lot of people have been opposed to Israel’s massive attack on Gaza for the last 7 months or so.

    It accomplishes nothing, in the most painful and destructive way possible. If you’re going to accomplish nothing, just half-ass it.

    Have a Happy Europe!

  13. Mister Bluster says:


    June is the month of my High Holy Day. The Summer Solstice. Always the best of times!

  14. MarkedMan says:

    @Andy: Yes. Israel so far has not been successful in driving a million or so Gazans into Egypt. I guess you would consider it a win if they eventually do?

  15. DK says:

    When do we stop pretending Netanyahu et. al and Sinwar et. al aren’t working in concert to indefinitely extend hostilities? It’s been going on for years. Instransigent religious fanatics determined to fight each other to the death will not be dissuaded.

    Biden and other rational interested parties shouldn’t give up, but it’s all window dressing til a critical mass of Israelis and Palestinians — and by extension their leaders — decide a negotiated, permanent peace whose terms acknowledge the human rights of both Israelis and Palestinians is preferable to degredation and holy war. Good luck to their allies who haven’t yet caught on.

  16. Just nutha ignint cracker says:


    When do we stop pretending Netanyahu et. al and Sinwar et. al aren’t working in concert to indefinitely extend hostilities?

    Interesting idea! I’ve been inclined to see them as independently working toward the same goal, but the idea of it being a coordinated effort intrigues me. Anybody up for fleshing out the argument beyond the current realm of speculation?

  17. DK says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: Anybody know the substantive difference between working in concert and independently working towards the same goal, beyond sematic hair-splitting?

    Inside the Israeli Plan That Propped Up Hamas (New York Times)

    Qatar sent millions to Gaza for years – with Israel’s backing. (CNN)

    Why Did Netanyahu Want to Strengthen Hamas? (Haaretz)

    EU foreign policy chief says Netanyahu strengthened Hamas to weaken the PA (Times of Israel)

    For years, Netanyahu propped up Hamas. Now it’s blown up in our faces (Times of Israel)

    In concert….independent but same goal…coordinated…to quote Hillary Clinton: what difference, at this point, does it make? Six in one hand, a half dozen in the other.

  18. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @DK: Well, I’ll agree on six of one and half a dozen of the other in terms of results, but I think “semantic hair splitting” is a little simplistic if only because in one case you’re talking conspiracy and in the other you’re not.

    Then again, considering what the audience here has been calling provable conspiracy, maybe you’re right (but still simple in the intellectual sense).

  19. Michael Reynolds says:

    Yeah, anti-semitism can be exaggerated, but it can also be ignored, which has not worked out well, historically. It’s worth remembering that the reason we have an Israel is because Europeans simply could not stop murdering Jews. Had the Germans, Austrians, Poles, Russians, French, Spanish etc… not been addicted to killing Jews we’d not have had to back a Jewish homeland, and the area of Palestine could today be yet another squalid, impoverished, corrupt thugocracy like every other nation state in the region.

  20. Lounsbury says:

    @Michael Reynolds: As your reply indicates, the racialised ethnic prejudice against another ethno-religious group is not the unique experience of the Jews (see “like every other nation state in the region.” ) – Americans seeming to be trapped in a 1970s understandings and imagery.

    Sadly, what we are seeing is yet another illustration of the moral bankrupcty of using past bad experiences of one party to waive away / excuse or camoflage that party turning around and behaving later in partial or whole replication – Humans being Humans, the self-blinding pretence that own side is morally elevated, eh

    The oppressed becoming the oppressor, and excusing / camoflaging / denying that by constant recall to their own oppression is sadly so typical that it is almost tediously tragic. But Beni Adam Beni Adam, humans are humans, so the baseline expectation really.

    The rhetorical excuse making, constant recalls to Holocaust – let us not eat the words – become threadbare covers that in fact do not serve even Israel’s own long-term interest as this merely greases an avoidable slide into a morally bankrupt mini-mirror of the nastiness of bankrupt dead-end logic 19th century ethno-religious ideologies.

    No call to Jews or anyone being better or other such pretences – it is simple clarity that long-term interest is in avoiding avoidable pariah status – the current situation being rather illustrative in the entirely avoidable wastage of the horrified sympathy following October by scoring Own Goals thanks purely to Netanyahu’s fraction and their elevation of a fractional ideology (and replicating many of the errors of the hubris of the Lebanese interventions, with similar self-blinding justifications). Wasting that also causing damage to the potential to actually achieve security – although a fine continuation of the very practices of the Netanyahu fraction that has supported the negative nihilistic symbiosis of them and Hamas.

    Feel free to continue of course with your ironic mirror of ethnic prejudice.