Biden announces new Israeli proposal for temporary cease-fire deal

President Biden on Friday announced what he said was a new Israeli proposal that, if agreed to by Hamas, will lead to a permanent cease-fire in Gaza, the release of hostages and the withdrawal of all Israeli troops from the enclave.

Describing the plan as a path to “a durable end to the war,” Biden said “the suffering has to stop. It’s time for this war to end.”

As outlined by the president in White House remarks, the three-phase plan would echo previous proposals, beginning with a six-week cease-fire and the return of women, children and other vulnerable hostages; the release of “hundreds” of Palestinian prisoners; withdrawal of Israeli troops from populated areas of Gaza; and the surging of “600 trucks [of humanitarian aid] carried into Gaza every single day.”

The new element in the proposal would come with a second phase, during which Israel and Hamas would negotiate a permanent cease-fire and complete Israeli withdrawal. Under the newly announced plan, the temporary cease-fire would continue beyond the six weeks until such a permanent plan is put in place, provided neither side violated its terms and negotiations continued.

“I’ll be straight with you,” Biden said. “There are a number of details in negotiations to move from phase one to phase two.”

The plan presumably would require Israel to withdraw its troops and cease its current offensive in Rafah, which Israeli officials said only Thursday could last until the end of this year.

Israel made no immediate statement on the proposal. Biden said that “Israel has now offered” these terms, but later in his remarks “urged the leadership in Israel to stand behind this deal.”

“I know there are those in Israel who will not agree with this plan and will call for the war to continue indefinitely … even in the government coalition,” he said. “And they’ve made it clear they want to occupy Gaza. They want to keep fighting for years.” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said in recent statements that Israel will insist on maintaining control over Gaza security.

Hamas has said previously it would not agree to any deal that did not include an immediate, permanent cease-fire and withdrawal of all Israeli forces.

This is a developing story.

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