July 18, 2024

Biden anticipates Israel-Gaza ceasefire by next week


US President Joe Biden has expressed optimism regarding the prospect of achieving a ceasefire in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Gaza, stating his hope for its realization “by next Monday.”

This statement follows indications of progress in negotiations involving representatives from Israel and Hamas in Qatar, as reported amid the conflict’s escalating toll. President Biden conveyed his administration’s assessment, stating, “My national security advisor tells me that we’re close.”

Israel’s military intervention in Gaza, initiated in response to Hamas militants’ attack that claimed approximately 1,200 lives in southern Israel on October 7, has resulted in significant casualties and hostilities. The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza has reported a staggering toll of at least 29,782 deaths in the territory since the conflict’s eruption, with 90 reported fatalities on Sunday alone.

President Biden, underscoring the significance of US-Israel relations, addressed reporters in New York City, reiterating his administration’s commitment to facilitating a potential ceasefire. “We’re close,” he affirmed, expressing hope for resolution by the upcoming week.

While acknowledging recent strides in negotiations, a spokesman for the US State Department, Matthew Miller, emphasized uncertainties regarding Hamas’s stance on key issues, particularly the release of Israeli hostages. Miller noted progress in discussions involving Egypt, Israel, the United States, and Qatar, highlighting ongoing diplomatic efforts to de-escalate tensions.

In recent diplomatic maneuvers, the US faced criticism for its veto of a UN Security Council resolution urging an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, opting instead for a proposed temporary resolution. This move included a cautionary directive to Israel against invading the southern Gazan city of Rafah, amid reported military preparations by Israeli forces targeting Hamas fighters in the area.

Israel’s intentions regarding Rafah have drawn international scrutiny, with mounting pressure urging restraint to prevent further civilian casualties. Concerns have escalated over the fate of the 1.5 million Palestinians seeking refuge in Rafah, many of whom have fled conflict zones in northern Gaza.

In parallel developments, Palestinian Authority (PA) Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh tendered his resignation, alongside his government overseeing parts of the occupied West Bank. President Mahmoud Abbas accepted the resignation, potentially paving the way for the establishment of a technocratic government. Amid calls for PA reforms to assume governance in post-conflict Gaza, Netanyahu’s recent territorial vision notably omitted any mention of the PA’s role, raising further questions about the region’s future political landscape.

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