Biden will remain “deeply involved” in efforts to extend the truce and free the hostages
A few hours after the end of the truce in Gaza and the return of the Israeli war to the Strip, a White House spokesperson announced that the United States continues to work with Israel, Egypt and Qatar to extend the humanitarian truce, and that the president of the United States United Joe Biden will remain deeply involved in efforts to extend the truce and free the hostages. The spokesperson added that Hamas had not provided a list of the names of the hostages that would allow the truce to be extended.
In the same context, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said (Friday) that he met with officials from Arab countries and discussed the future of the Gaza Strip in light of Israel’s resumption of the attack after the end of a truce of a week with Hamas. .
Blinken said Friday’s talks focused on the current situation in Gaza and how to achieve “a permanent and secure peace,” before boarding his plane in Dubai at the end of his third visit to the region since the Hamas attack of October 7th. Blinken said after meeting with some of his Arab counterparts on the sidelines of the climate conference (COP28): “Our attention remains focused on returning everyone to their homes, returning the hostages, which is what I have been working for today too.” .
A senior US State Department official said Blinken met with the foreign ministers of Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Jordan and Bahrain, as well as representatives of the Palestinian Authority, on the sidelines of the COP28 conference in Dubai.
The Biden administration is trying to strike a very fragile balance between showing support for Israel and giving it the green light to resume military operations, and concern about moral responsibility for the possibility of thousands of civilian deaths.
When Israeli military operations began to resume, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised that Israel would fight to the end and that nothing would stop it from eliminating Hamas. Benny Gantz has told senior US administration officials that Israel will expand fighting across the Strip with no borders to prevent it, meaning battles could last months.
Analysts call Biden’s strategy toward Israel “hug the bear” or “neutralize the beast,” referring to the administration’s attempt to distance itself from the fallout from Israel’s scorched-earth tactics and pressure Tel Aviv to act in accordance with international humanitarian law and the laws of war.
These Israeli statements about the battles that are moving to southern Gaza have raised the ire of the American administration, which fears an increase in the number of victims if Israel does not adhere to the “surgical” military plans, as the Americans call them. The Biden administration has set some standards and requirements; It gave the green light for military operations, but with caveats about avoiding large numbers of civilian deaths, avoiding targeting hospitals and UN facilities, and establishing a specific time frame for military operations and a global vision for the post-war period.
The Biden administration has issued public warnings to Israel that the destruction and huge number of civilian deaths in the northern Gaza Strip must not be repeated. In his press conference in Tel Aviv, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken stressed the need to avoid massive loss of civilian life and population displacement like that which occurred in northern Gaza, and that he received approval from the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to take measures to protect civilians.
The US administration is concerned about the possibility of declaring another truce with some 137 hostages still held by Hamas, including 11 foreigners and 126 Israelis.
Characteristics of the next stage
Analysts say the war will likely continue until Israel achieves its strategic goal of destroying Hamas, and the second phase of the resumption of fighting could be more ferocious and violent to avoid a long war in which international pressure increases on Israel to end to the fighting. and declare a permanent ceasefire.
Frank Lowenstein, who served as special envoy for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations under US President Barack Obama during the 2014 war between Israel and Gaza, told CNN it was unclear whether Israel would follow US advice to avoid civilian casualties, and it will The extent of the Israeli response to American advice is a very strong indicator of the extent of the influence the Biden administration has over Israelis.
He added: “If Israel follows the same military approach in the south that it has taken in the north, it could lead to an increasingly open dispute with the Biden administration; Therefore, perhaps the Israelis will try to avoid a confrontation with the American administration and take some measures to moderate their approach to fighting during the next phase of the war.”
Proposals and options
Biden administration officials are discussing with their Israeli counterparts how to protect civilians who have fled to the south, and among the options offered is to relocate displaced civilians to the south and return them back to the north of the Strip once the military operations. END. UNRWA estimates that the number of those who have been displaced from their homes in the northern Gaza Strip since 7 October is around 1.8 million people. That is more than 80% of the population of Gaza.
The US administration is studying the idea of establishing safe zones and corridors in the south, but the idea faces difficulties in implementation since hundreds of thousands of civilians are concentrated in a very small area. It is also exploring the idea of assigning safe places for Palestinian civilians to gather and preserving vital infrastructure.