Biden pressing Netanyahu on long-term ceasefire in Gaza, reports say

US President Joe Biden is reportedly pressuring his staunch ally, Benjamin Netanyahu, to reach a long-term ceasefire deal on Gaza.

  • US President Joe Biden boards Air Force One at Los Angeles International Airport in Los Angeles, February 4, 2024, en route to Las Vegas to participate in campaign events (AP)

Some 120 days into the aggression on the Gaza Strip, some officials in the United States are attempting to pressure the Israeli occupation to reach a ceasefire deal in exchange for normalization with Saudi Arabia, Israeli Channel 13 reported on Sunday.

Raviv Drucker, a political affairs commentator at Israeli Channel 13, mentioned that the Biden administration was urging the Israeli occupation to agree to a ceasefire for at least 4 months as part of a multi-stage deal.

Drucker explained that the Israeli occupation was facing pressure in exchange for promoting the normalization agreement with Saudi Arabia.

Regarding the first and second stages of the deal sought by the Biden administration, Drucker pointed out that in the first stage, the Israeli occupation will cease fighting in Gaza for 6 weeks, withdraw from Gaza city centers, and release a limited number of prisoners in exchange for the release of 35 Israeli prisoners and 5 female soldiers.

Moreover, Drucker discussed the second stage, describing it as more complicated for Netanyahu. During this stage, the Israeli occupation will continue the ceasefire for an extended period and release a large number of prisoners, including those labeled as important, in exchange for the release of all surviving male soldiers.

He mentioned that senior Hamas officials insist on a commitment to implementing both stages of the deal, fearing that the Israeli occupation might be excluded from summaries after the first stage is implemented. Despite American and Saudi pressures, Netanyahu is expected to face significant difficulties if he agrees to a prolonged ceasefire, potentially leading to the actual end of the war.

With Biden and his administration, who are months away from an election, under a tight schedule to enhance normalization between the Israelis and Saudi Arabia, the step requires a specific majority approval in the Senate.

Elections loom closer

As the upcoming elections in November loom closer, it is expected to be increasingly challenging for the Democratic administration to gather the necessary votes from Republican Senate members.

The American timetable, with the upcoming holy month of Ramadan, necessitates a decision from the Israeli occupation in the near future, one way or another.

Netanyahu, on the other hand, will have to decide whether to risk ending the fighting in Gaza, possibly even leading to the dissolution of his government, in exchange for the release of the Israeli captives and normalization with Saudi Arabia.

An official source for Hamas told Palestinian media that the Resistance movement has not submitted its response to the Paris Agreement yet. 

The source said Hamas is channeling final consultations with public and national factions to decide what is best for the Palestinian people. 

The source stressed that the main objective of the negotiations is focused on stopping the Israeli aggression, reconstructing Gaza, and releasing the prisoners, adding that a response should be expected soon. 

Hamas’ source also denied claims of the Resistance’s rejection of ceasefire proposals, urging news outlets to beware of conveying Israeli narratives that aim at confusing the Palestinian public. 

Read more: What does the Paris document entail?

No one can force terms on the Palestinian Resistance

Top officials from Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) spoke to Al Mayadeen in a live televised interview to address the latest development regarding a mediated ceasefire deal with “Israel”.

Ali Baraka, the head of Hamas’ Department of National Relations Abroad, said the movement is conducting internal and external consultations with other Resistance factions regarding an anticipated deal.

The official said Hamas’ response to a deal recently submitted by mediators will require time for formulation and finalization.

Shedding light on the Palestinian Resistance’s demands, Baraka said, “Our conditions include a ceasefire, opening the Rafah crossing, international Arab commitment to rebuilding [the Gaza Strip], and releasing prisoners on the basis of all for all.”

It is worth noting that the term “all for all” refers to the release of Palestinian detainees from Israeli prisons, in exchange for the release of Israeli captives held by the Resistance in Gaza.

He also said the response, which will be presented to Egyptian mediators by the head of Hamas’ Political Bureau, Ismail Haniyeh, will represent all Palestinian Resistance factions and not just Hamas.

Read more: No info on Hamas disagreements impacting negotiations: Israeli media

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