US President Joe Biden sets out major plan to end Israel-Gaza war

US President Joe Biden says Israel has offered a new timetable for lasting peace in Gaza and called on Hamas to accept the surprise deal because “it’s time for this war to end”.

In his first major address outlining a resolution to the conflict, Biden said Friday (local time) that the three-phase proposal begins with a six-week full ceasefire that would see Israeli forces withdraw from all populated areas of Gaza.

“It’s time for this war to end, for the next day to begin,” Biden said in a televised address from the White House.

“Israel has offered a comprehensive new proposal. This is a plan for a permanent ceasefire and the release of all hostages,” he said.

The 81-year-old Democrat is under pressure at home to end the war in Gaza ahead of a close US presidential election in November against Donald Trump, with protests across the country and anger in his own party.

Biden said the responsibility for peace rests with the Palestinian militant group Hamas, whose attack on key US ally Israel on October 7 last year sparked a burning conflict in Gaza.

“Hamas must accept the deal,” said Biden, who has supported Israel with billions of dollars in military aid since the conflict began.

But Biden said he also urged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli leaders “not to lose this moment,” saying the Israeli offensive had severely degraded Hamas.

“Hamas is no longer capable of carrying out another October 7,” Biden said in comments that will be seen as evidence that he believes Israel has achieved its war aims and should relent.

Biden said the first six-week phase would include “a complete and total ceasefire, the withdrawal of Israeli forces from all populated areas of Gaza, the release of many hostages, including women, the elderly and the wounded, in exchange for the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners.”

Israel and Hamas would then negotiate a permanent ceasefire during those six weeks – but the ceasefire would continue if talks continued, Biden said.

“As long as Hamas fulfills its commitments, the temporary ceasefire would become, in the words of the Israeli proposal, a permanent cessation of hostilities,” Biden added.

The third phase would involve years of internationally supported reconstruction.

‘Pure Hell’

Biden’s announcement came after repeated attempts to end the war stalled — and signs the deal may be dead on arrival.

Netanyahu said after Bidno’s speech that the war in Gaza will not end until Hamas’ ability to rule and wage war is “removed.”

Hamas, which received the proposal on Wednesday through an intermediary in Qatar, insists that any ceasefire must be permanent.

The group said on Friday that it had informed mediators that it would agree to a “comprehensive” ceasefire agreement, including a hostage and prisoner swap, only if Israel halted its “aggression”.

Ismail Haniyeh, head of Hamas’s Qatar-based political office, reiterated that the group’s core demands – including a permanent ceasefire and a full Israeli withdrawal – are “non-negotiable”.

A senior US official, however, said the new Israeli proposal was “almost identical” to what Hamas itself offered a few weeks ago – and admitted there were still “small gaps”.

Biden did not significantly address the Israeli attack on the southern Gaza town of Rafah.

The Israeli army announced on Friday that its troops had penetrated into the center of the city despite international objections.

Biden, however, admitted that the Palestinians are going through “real hell”.

The US president has been under international pressure over his support for Israel since a deadly attack on Rafah set the packed camp on fire on Sunday.

According to the authorities in Gaza, 45 people were killed and around 250 were injured.

However, the White House said this week that the Israeli strike was “devastating” but did not violate Biden’s red lines on withholding weapons supplies to a key US ally.

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