U.N. Endorses Biden’s Gaza Proposal: Is This the Best We Can Do?

Wandering views / shutterstock.com
Wandering views / shutterstock.com

The Biden administration is once again pushing a cease-fire proposal that it claims aligns with what Israeli negotiators have been offering Hamas. But let’s be honest: this proposal is far from what the Israeli government wants.

On June 10, the U.N. Security Council, led by the U.S., voted in favor of this so-called cease-fire plan that President Joe Biden announced on May 31. Thirteen out of the fifteen members voted for it, with Russia abstaining.

What’s this deal about? Supposedly, it aims to end over eight months of fierce fighting between Israeli forces and Hamas. According to Gaza’s health ministry, which Hamas controls, the conflict has resulted in over 37,000 Palestinians dead and nearly 85,000 injured. These numbers are dubious, as they don’t distinguish between combatants and civilians.

President Biden’s plan is broken into phases. Phase one proposes a six-week cease-fire, withdrawal of Israeli troops from Gaza’s populated areas, and a prisoner exchange. Hostages, including women and the elderly, would be released in return for hundreds of Palestinian prisoners. Also, up to 600 truckloads of food would enter Gaza daily.

But here’s the kicker: phase two hinges on continued negotiations and the peace holding beyond six weeks. If Hamas releases its remaining captives, mainly Israeli soldiers, Israel would withdraw completely, making the cease-fire permanent. In the third phase, reconstruction of Gaza begins, and Hamas is supposed to turn over any remains of deceased hostages.

Now, let’s talk reality. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his cabinet are not on board with this plan. Netanyahu has been clear: no permanent cease-fire without dismantling Hamas. Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich and National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir have threatened to withdraw support from Netanyahu’s government if he agrees to anything less.

Even though the Biden administration insists this plan reflects Israeli offers, skepticism abounds. U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield called on Hamas to accept the deal. Meanwhile, Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia expressed doubts, saying the proposal’s details are too murky to support fully.

Israeli U.N. delegate Reut Shapir Ben-Naftaly reiterated Israel’s commitment to defeating Hamas before any permanent deal is made. She stressed that Israel will not engage in endless negotiations that allow Hamas to regroup and rearm.

Other Security Council members, like Maltese Ambassador Vanessa Frazier and Swiss Ambassador Pascale Baeriswyl, urged Israel to avoid civilian casualties, highlighting the humanitarian toll of the conflict. However, these calls often ignore the complex realities on the ground where Hamas uses civilians as shields.

Biden’s cease-fire proposal is seen by many as a naive attempt to force peace that ignores the root causes of the conflict and Israel’s legitimate security concerns. It’s high time the administration faced the facts: peace won’t come through half-measures and wishful thinking.