Hamas sheds light on Biden’s ceasefire proposal

President Joe Biden made a public announcement on May 31, 2024, on a proposal for a temporary ceasefire to halt Israel’s horrendous genocide in Gaza since last October, resulting in, as of June 1, the massacre of over 36,000 Palestinians and the wounding of over 82,000 more by the Zionist, apartheid state.

Credit: Tony Murphy

Biden’s proposal – to date not supported by the white supremacist regime headed by war criminal Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – would be carried out in three phases: The first phase would be a six-week ceasefire and the return of women, children and other Israelis held in Gaza; the release of Palestinian prisoners held in Israel; withdrawal of Israeli troops from populated areas of Gaza; and for Israel to release 600 trucks of humanitarian aid to be carried into Gaza daily. 

The second phase would be a permanent ceasefire leading to a full Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, along with the release of all remaining Israelis held in Gaza. The third phase would be a 3-5 year period of internationally funded reconstruction of Gaza and the establishment of a non-Hamas Palestinian government.  

This is the same “Genocide Joe” who has consistently sent the Israeli regime billions of dollars worth of weapons, which the Zionist state has used to ethnically cleanse the people of Gaza, which will lead to the displacement of over 2 million people who now face a growing famine. Could it be that Biden, in making this proposal, is attempting to portray himself as a proponent of peace, because he is so fearful of losing mass support in the U.S. amongst students, workers and people of color, including Arabs and Muslims, for defending what he calls Israel’s “right to defend itself,” a loss of support that puts at risk his showing in the upcoming elections?  

This is the same Biden who has publicly denied labeling what has happened in Gaza as a genocide. This is the same Biden who has sanctioned an invitation to actually bring Netanyahu to Washington, D.C. to speak before a joint session of Congress.  This is the same Biden who may be next in line to face individual charges of war crimes by the International Criminal Court.  

What has been the response of Hamas to this latest ceasefire announcement by Biden? Senior Hamas leader Osama Hamdan made the following response on Al-Jazeera on June 1, 2024, as published by Resistance Network News. 

Response from Hamas

The effort exerted by our brother mediators in Egypt and Qatar aimed to achieve a ceasefire, end the “israeli” aggression on Gaza, and withdraw the forces. We had a clear position and responded positively to these efforts and mediation. We accepted the final proposal presented by the mediators, which had U.S. approval. The U.S. side failed to oblige the “israeli” side and convince them to agree to the [early May] paper, leading to the collapse of all these efforts that were built. 

Today, Biden announced ideas that we viewed positively. We said these ideas are not enough; we need a complete agreement because the details from the “israeli” side have always been a source of constant crisis, whether in the ceasefire and the “israeli” desire for it not to be permanent, or in the withdrawal and the “israeli” attempt to remain in specific locations in Gaza, or even in the [prisoner] exchange process. 

The statement and the call from the U.S. president to reach an agreement is positive, but agreements cannot be achieved through mere hopes. We need clear texts that achieve what we want and what we have said, and that the “israelis” accept openly and explicitly, not in an evasive manner, or in a way that allows them to evade any commitment. 

Principles alone are not enough to reach an agreement. They are a roadmap, but not the picture we can agree upon. We want a complete ceasefire; this was proposed by President Biden, but how? What is the timing and mechanism? We want a complete withdrawal from Gaza. This must be specified within clearly defined steps. We also want comprehensive shelter and relief for Gaza, reconstruction, and an end to the siege. We want a fair exchange deal. All these details must be agreed upon. 

I expected President Biden to adopt the paper that was presented to Hamas at the beginning of last May as a paper from the mediators, which was approved by his mediator in the negotiation, CIA Director William Burns. The statement reflects a serious attempt by the mediators to reach an agreement. We need to see precisely what is being proposed and what the “israeli” position truly is.

‘There is no initiative’

We have not received anything specific yet, and we are not about to return to square one for negotiations. There is a proposal presented to the mediators. 

I believe the statement can be a prelude to re-presenting the same proposal to the “israeli” side, and that the “israelis” will accept it. There is no initiative; President Biden spoke about ideas. General ideas do not mean reaching an understanding. It is a general framework, and many details have been discussed over the past four months. The talk about the mediators’ desire to reach an agreement is good and acceptable. 

Hamas did not hesitate and made the decision when it agreed to the paper presented by the mediators. The role now is for the mediators to pressure the “israeli” side to accept the same proposal, which I believe achieved what President Biden proposed in principle. Hamas announced its acceptance of what the mediators presented, and ““israel” did not agree. They announced their rejection. 

The side that has been intransigent over the past months is the “israeli” side, which met Hamas’s acceptance and the mediators’ efforts with an invasion of Rafah and the occupation of the Philadelphia Route and Rafah Crossing. 

The “israeli” side needs to explicitly and clearly announce its commitment to reaching an agreement that achieves a comprehensive ceasefire, a complete withdrawal from Gaza, unrestricted entry of relief for sheltering and aiding the displaced, reconstruction of Gaza, lifting the siege, and achieving a fair prisoner exchange deal. 

What Netanyahu wrote on X confirms that the intransigence is “israeli,” and that the efforts of the intermediaries were always thwarted by the “israeli” side. We are not insisting on conditions but on a proposal presented by the mediators, and we accepted it. 

I believe the pressure should be directed towards the “israeli” side, which has thwarted all efforts so far. President Biden’s statements have so far been met with “israeli” rejection. The Palestinian resistance remains committed to its stance. It made the decision, while Netanyahu continues to obstruct all efforts, refuses to accept the ceasefire, and disrupts them.

The Hamas statement has been lightly edited.

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