US President Joe Biden
US President Joe BidenREUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/Pool

The President of the United States, Joe Biden, went in front of the cameras at the White House on 31 May and presented a multi-stage process for an end of war in Gaza that would release all the hostages, declaring it to be an Israeli peace plan.

It would be interesting to learn from Biden which Israeli came up with this plan.

Biden’s “Israeli” plan sounded c,omprehensive but it wasn’t, and it didn’t sound right.

According to Biden we would get all our hostages after we release several hundred merciless killers and accept a ceasefire that would become a permanent cessation in fighting. But no word about the defeat of Hamas and its leaders.

In other words, Biden’s Israel plan gifts a victory to Hamas.

Our officials have negotiated with any partner, friend or enemy, to get our hostages back for months, but the thought that Hamas would emerge armed and dangerous was never on the cards. In fact, this detail has split a part of Israeli society who want the hostages home even if Hamas is left to repeat the horrors of 7/10, but they are a vocal but small part of the population.

This part also wants to remove Netanyahu as Israel’s leader. These are led by the malcontents that had split Israeli society up to the day that Hamas attacked on 7 October. Prior to 7/10 they included notable, some would say malevolent, former leftist politicians and retired IDF and air force commanders who were telling reservists not to turn up for duty as long as Bibi was Prime Minister.

For many, these are the people that created the atmosphere in Israel that encouraged Hamas to strike. Now these people are seen as dividing the suffering families of the hostages. They have returned to their public streets with all the equipment but in smaller numbers and with different signs and are using the hostages, and the length of the war, as their cover to have Netanyahu removed.

Israel has a War Cabinet comprising both members of the government and opposition to manage the conflict. All, apparently, have the same unified goal that Hamas must be utterly defeated. This is particularly felt by our volunteer soldiers who are dedicated, to the point of self-sacrifice, to eliminate Hamas. All are motivated by the horrific events of 7/10 and are fighting under the pledge of “Never Again!”

So for Biden to spell out the conditions of a hostage deal that leaves Hamas alive and killing, and present it as an Israeli plan, did not sound right.

In his words, “After intensive diplomacy carried out by my team, my many conversations with leaders of Israel, Qatar and Egypt and other Middle Eastern countries, Israel has now offered a comprehensive new proposal. It’s a road map to an enduring ceasefire and the release of all hostages.”

Not a few Israelis are still angry that after sweeping through Gaza City and Khan Younis the IDF completely withdrew from Gaza as a precondition imposed by Hamas for the release of hostages. And Hamas broke their agreement.

Israel does not engage in negotiations for the release of our hostages in front of the media. Lives are at stake and families’ expectations can easily be dashed.

But Biden broke that sacred bond in a cynical political manner.

“I need your help. Everyone who wants peace now must raise their voices and let the leaders know they should take this deal,” he said.

For Israelis, it sounded like the US President was calling on the international community to dump down on us.

It sounded as if Biden wanted to deepen the rift within Israeli society to bring down our elected Prime Minister, and to do it during an essential war when the fate of our living hostages is at stake, made it appear an egregious cynical political ploy.

Our hostages should not be expendable pawns in particularly ill-considered publicity event.

Proving that his plan was NOT Israeli, but his own, Biden said, “Israel will want to make sure its interests are protected but the proposal says should the negotiations take longer than six weeks for phase one, the ceasefire will still continue as long as negotiations continue.”

An Israeli reading implies that after Hamas plays their psychological time games and extends agreed deadlines, Israel would be obligated not to respond militarily but to sit by and do nothing until someone can persuade Palestinian Hamas to live up to Biden’s expectations.

No Israeli would have come up with that egregious proposal.

Then Biden said, “Phase two, after an exchange for the release of all remaining living hostages, including male soldiers, Israeli forces will withdrawal from Gaza and as long as Hamas lives up to its commitments, temporary ceasefire will become, in the words of the Israeli proposal, ‘cessation of hostilities will be permanent,’ end of quote.”

It continues, “Finally, in phase three, a major reconstruction plan for Gaza would commence and any final remains of hostages who’ve been killed will be returned to their families. That’s the offer that’s now on the table, and what we’ve been asking for. It’s what we need.”

This is unacceptable to Israel. We know that if we withdraw Hamas will emerge out of their tunnels and hiding places and history has shown us, we can whistle goodbye to remaining hostages.

IDF soldiers, Hadar Goldin and Oren Shaul, were captured by Hamas ten years ago and haven’t been seen since. Hamas has given zero information to Israel and their families for a decade of their fate or whereabouts.

Ethiopian Israeli Avera Mengistu, and Bedouin Arab Israeli Hisham al-Sayed, were seized by Hamas alive in 2014 and 2015. Where are they? Hamas won’t say.

But, according to Biden, the reconstruction of Gaza begins before the remains of our dead hostages, murdered by Hamas, or these individuals held by Hamas, will be returned home to their families.

This US President has zero knowledge or empathy for basic Jewish values. Israel must not stop pursuing Hamas until we reach the last of the living and the last of our dead so they can be brought home to their families for proper burial in Israel.

And what of Hamas? Biden doesn’t say. They mysteriously disappear from Biden’s script which, he claims, was written by Israel. But, according to Biden’s script, they will remain alive and killing after an enforced Israeli withdrawal.

But then, Biden let it slip that it was not an Israeli plan after all with a giveaway line; “I’ve urged the leadership of Israel to stand behind this deal despite whatever pressure comes.”

Israel’s IDF is in the final phase of the war to militarily defeat Hamas and annihilate its leadership. If Israel had not been stopped by intense international pressure the war would truly be over by now.

We trusted Biden, we trusted the international diplomatic community. They lied to us. They left our hostages to suffer for additional months because we lost valuable time to give peace a chance.

It didn’t work. It will never work as long as Hamas exists.

The Israeli Prime Minister does not issue official international statements on a Shabbat, but Benjamin Netanyahu broke that holy tradition by making Israel’s position crystal clear.

“Israel will continue its war against the Hamas terrorist organization in Gaza until all three objectives are achieved: return of all the hostages abducted by the terrorists on October 7, 2023, and in 2014; destruction of the Hamas terrorist organization as a military and governing entity; and taking steps to ensure Gaza never again poses a threat to Israel.”

To emphasize Israel’s position, the Prime Minister added, “The actual proposal put forward by Israel, including the conditional transition from one phase to the next, allows Israel to uphold these principles.”

“Under the proposal, Israel will continue to insist these conditions are met before a permanent ceasefire is put in place. The notion that Israel will agree to a permanent ceasefire before these conditions are fulfilled is a non-starter.

“Israel’s conditions for ending the war have not changed: The destruction of Hamas military and governing capabilities, the freeing of all hostages and ensuring that Gaza no longer poses a threat to Israel.”

Until the Prime Minister or the War Cabinet, or the Israeli Government Security Council, release any other official statement, this is the position of Israel in its war against Hamas with a primary goal being the release of the hostages, some of whom are American.

If there are differences of opinion within the War Cabinet, dissenting members may resign from the Cabinet to be replaced by others that share the basic principles of the just war that was imposed on Israel by Hamas.

Israel strongly urges the United States and the West, to stand affirmatively with Israel in this war, a war we are fighting justly and correctly, despite false accusations.

(For a step by step analysis, see this ZOA statement)

Barry Shaw is an International Public Diplomacy Associate at the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies.