Biden wants an end to the Gaza war. But he is finally realising Netanyahu will block any attempts at peace | Alon Pinkas

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If you deliberation reports of Netanyahu rejecting an Israeli connection are bizarre, deliberation again. After all, this isn’t truthful overmuch George Orwell’s 1984 but Benjamin Netanyahu’s 2024. The infinitesimal nan Israeli leader stipulated that Israel would “reserve nan correct to return to war”, it was clear that nan “Israeli proposal” presented by nan US president, Joe Biden, past Friday, to extremity hostilities pinch a three-part hostage merchandise and ceasefire deal, was dormant successful nan water. Netanyahu wasn’t conscionable placating his utmost rightwing conjugation but reneging connected an statement that he had ne'er wanted successful nan first place.

The proposal, which Biden said had emerged from negotiations pinch “leaders of Israel, Qatar, and Egypt and different Middle Eastern countries”, offered a “roadmap to an enduring ceasefire and nan merchandise of each hostages”. The scheme included a impermanent ceasefire successful Gaza arsenic portion of its first shape and would besides person seen nan speech of Israeli hostages for Palestinian prisoners, on with, successful nan second stages, nan brokering of a imperishable ceasefire. That’s wherever Netanyahu’s stipulations, conditions and mentation of nan conflict makes immoderate woody that obfuscates his extremity to “destroy Hamas” unattainable, moreover if technically it is Hamas that seems to person rejected it.

For galore years, Netanyahu had nan estimation of being risk-averse. Apologists said that, notwithstanding nan bluster, demagoguery and sanctimony he exuded, he was fundamentally cautious and balanced. His detractors, connected nan different hand, claimed that he was spurious by nature, that this was not circumspection aliases astuteness but alternatively cowardice, endemic vacillation and an inherent inability to make decisions.

Risk-averse aliases not, his only calculus, some sides agree, is governmental endurance by immoderate and each means. With his governmental life-expectancy threatened by an ongoing criminal trial, and nan aftermath of nan 7 October panic onslaught and ensuing war, immoderate risk-aversion he whitethorn person exhibited successful nan past has been replaced by sheer recklessness and crude cynicism.

Joe Biden and Benjamin Netanyahu successful Tel Aviv connected 18 October 2023.
‘Biden is convinced nan warfare should beryllium terminated immediately, aft 8 months of unmitigated support for Israel.’ Biden and Netanyahu successful Tel Aviv connected 18 October 2023. Photograph: Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters

This cognition governs his refusal to return work and beryllium held accountable for his guidance of nan conflict, his deliberate confrontations pinch nan US and his seemingly indifferent, duplicitous attack to nan hostage situation.

In nan six days that person passed since Biden presented nan “Israeli proposal”, neither Israel nor Hamas had responded conclusively until Thursday. Attention has shifted dramatically to nan Israel-Lebanon border, wherever a awesome escalation betwixt Israel and Hezbollah, and either straight aliases indirectly pinch Iran, is connected nan verge of erupting. This seems to person sidetracked a Gaza deal, but nan 2 are successful truth inextricably linked.

Since nan outset of nan war, Biden’s superior nonsubjective has been to forestall escalation. Despite nan circumstantial rumor Israel and Lebanon person complete nan nonstop demarcation of nan border, past delineated successful an statement successful 2000 aft Israel withdrew from a confederate Lebanon “security zone” carved successful 1985, nan US sees a ceasefire successful Gaza arsenic nan cardinal to de-escalation successful nan north. The 2 issues are benignant of geopolitical communicating vessels, each responding to nan other.

Biden’s timing was not coincidental, and his information to coming nan connection was arsenic substantive arsenic it was political. It came a time aft Donald Trump, his rival and presumptive Republican campaigner this November, was unanimously convicted of 34 felonies of falsifying financial records regarding a hush-money costs to a porn actor. Biden opinionated successful nan White House and talking astir a imaginable ceasefire successful nan Middle East was arsenic stark a opposition betwixt nan 2 arsenic possible.

Substantively, Biden is convinced that nan warfare should beryllium terminated immediately, aft 8 months of unmitigated support for Israel. Politically, he simply outed Netanyahu. Suspecting that a mendacious and manipulative Netanyahu could astatine immoderate infinitesimal contradict aliases renege connected Israel’s ain proposal, Biden decided to telephone his bluff, though ostensibly he demanded that Hamas judge nan plan, arsenic if Israel’s consent was already a done deal. It wasn’t.

The US has 2 premier vested interests successful pressing for a deal. First, a realisation that nan warfare has exhausted itself and that nary further tangible achievements tin beryllium made, fto unsocial immoderate benignant of gamechanging action. When Biden said past Friday astir a imperishable ceasefire, it was nan first clip he has done truthful successful a public, clear and unequivocal way. The negotiated costs exacted connected nan US and nan governmental costs to him person go excessively precocious to sustain. This was premised connected a belated nickname that Netanyahu, who has launched a warfare pinch nary coherent, defined and attainable governmental goals, has been prolonging it for governmental reasons.

The US management yet reached nan conclusion, aft months of surviving successful a convenient authorities of denial, that Netanyahu was deliberately defying it by refusing to entertain Washington’s ideas aliases coming a postwar governmental model aliases scheme of his own. Furthermore, grounds was mounting that he was intentionally seeking a confrontation pinch Biden for governmental expediency. Biden said truthful himself, successful an question and reply pinch Time magazine earlier successful nan week. Second, Biden needs to forestall nan warfare successful Gaza spreading to Lebanon, wherever nan stakes are overmuch higher, nan devastation perchance bigger and nan anticipation of nan US being dragged into it considerable.

In an effort to articulate a argumentation that strived to some extremity nan warfare and forestall escalation, Biden presented nan plan. Even successful Netanyahu’s fume and mirrors world, he knew nan clip for prevarication was over. But his insistence that Hamas beryllium eradicated has made immoderate effort by Biden to scope a serene colony unviable. Hamas will now request American assurances of a imperishable ceasefire, but it is doubtful nan US tin present them - though nan head of nan CIA and Qatar are still trying difficult to salvage a deal.

Whether Netanyahu’s consequence was meant to elicit a rejection from Hamas aliases to get Biden disconnected his backmost isn’t important. Netanyahu’s predicament is obvious. He has reached an impasse. Procrastination, stalling and wasting clip will nary longer do. This is binary: woody aliases nary deal. As acold arsenic he is concerned, nary woody is simply a amended option.

  • Alon Pinkas served arsenic Israel’s consul wide successful New York from 2000 to 2004. He is now a columnist for Haaretz

Source theguardian