U.S. Says Israel Has Agreed to a Ceasefire Framework

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Last Monday, Joe Biden went on Seth Meyers show and teased a ceasefire in Gaza; “I hope by the end of the weekend… My national security adviser tells me that we’re close — we’re close — we’re not done yet. My hope is by next Monday we’ll have a ceasefire.”

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When contacted by the media, Israel, Hamas, and the mediators from Qatar all said that what Biden said about the ceasefire wasn’t true.

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Now we learn that the Israelis “have more or less accepted” a ceasefire proposal and it only needs Hamas’s agreement to be implemented.

I don’t recall ever hearing a proposal being “more or less” accepted. So take this news with a grain of salt.

The ceasefire proposal includes a six-week ceasefire as well as the release by Hamas of hostages considered “vulnerable.” The Associated Press reports that a U.S. official said that “vulnerable” hostages include “the sick, the wounded, the elderly and women.”

“Right now, the ball is in the court of Hamas and we are continuing to push this as hard as we possibly can,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Neither Israeli officials or Hamas responded to the AP’s request for comment.

A senior Egyptian official said mediators Egypt and Qatar are expected to receive a response from Hamas during the Cairo talks scheduled to start Sunday. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not publicly authorized to discuss the sensitive talks.

The talks come amid increasing criticism over the desperation of hundreds of thousands struggling to survive in northern Gaza, which has borne the brunt of the conflict that began when the Hamas militant group attacked southern Israel on Oct. 7, killing 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and seizing around 250 hostages.

United States military planes began the first airdrops of thousands of meals into Gaza, and the militaries of Jordan and Egypt said they also conducted airdrops.

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This sounds like more wishful thinking from the Americans rather than a concrete proposal. Biden is putting enormous pressure on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu not to attack Rafah where about 1.3 million Palestinians have crowded into the town whose pre-war population was about 170,000. Will Netanyahu abandon his plan and accept the ceasefire?

Acknowledging the difficulty of getting aid in and the extreme need for food, U.S. President Joe Biden said the U.S. would look for other ways “including possibly a marine corridor.”

Jordan’s military said its own airdrops on Saturday targeted sites in northern Gaza and the drops it coordinated with the U.S. occurred in the south.

But the EU statement, echoing humanitarian groups, said airdrops “should be the solution of last resort as their impact is minimal.” It called for the opening of further ground crossings into Gaza and the removal of obstacles from the rare ones open.

Even if the fighting ended tomorrow, the prospect of life returning to normal in Gaza is years away. It will be months before regular deliveries of food can feed the population. My guess is that Egypt, Lebanon, and a few other Arab countries should get ready to welcome about a million and a half Palestinians.

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