INDEPENDENT NEWS

On Why The Biden “peace Plan” For Gaza Is Doomed

Published: Tue 18 Jun 2024 11:53 AM
After months and months of blocking every attempt by the UN and everyone else to achieve a Gaza ceasefire, US President Joe Biden is now marketing his own three-stage “peace plan” to end the conflict. Like every other contribution by the US since October 7, the Biden initiative is hobbled by its service to Israeli priorities. To that end, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken has been falsely claiming that Hamas (not Israel) is the sole obstruction to getting the Biden deal across the line.
Here’s Blinken’s lie, as reported last week in the NZ Herald:
On his eighth visit to the region, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the UN Security Council’s vote in favour of the US-backed proposal for a Gaza ceasefire and hostage release made it “as clear as it possibly could be” that the world supports the plan, as he again called on Hamas to accept it.
“Everyone’s vote is in, except for one vote, and that’s Hamas,” Blinken told reporters in Tel Aviv after meeting with Israeli officials. He said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had reaffirmed his commitment to the proposal when they met earlier in the week.
That is untrue on both counts. When the Biden plan was first promoted, Hamas accepted it in broad principle, almost immediately. All along, it has been Israel’s PM Benjamin Netanyahu who - whatever he may have told Blinken privately – has publicly and consistently rejected all iterations of a Gaza ceasefire deal. So have his extremist Cabinet colleagues. Netanyahu has also opposed any pause in the fighting so that essential humanitarian aid could be distributed. Last week saw yet another expression of Israel’s total rejection of peace negotiations:
On Sunday, according to the Israeli newspaper Arab 48, Netanyahu told the families of soldiers killed in the Gaza campaign, “There was no deal because we will not give up on completing the war objectives. The main disagreement with Hamas revolves around the commitment to end the fighting without completing the objectives.”
Israel, not Hamas, is blocking the road to peace. Meanwhile, the carnage continues. Aid is not getting through. Children are dying of starvation, and thousands more are at risk. Reportedly, between October 7 and June 16, 1,139 Israelis have been killed. At least 37,296 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza, and another 548 Palestinians have been killed on the West Bank - where over 4,000 Palestinians have been displaced, and over 8,000 have been arrested. It is not only on one side of this conflict that hostages are being held.The US talks peace, Israel makes war
To recap: the three stage plan would start off with a six-week cessation of fighting, the release of the remaining Israeli hostages in exchange for the release of Palestinian prisoners, a partial withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza and the flooding of the Gaza enclave with humanitarian aid.
In stage two, Israeli and Palestinian representatives would then negotiate the terms for a permanent ceasefire. The initial halt to the fighting would continue, Biden has said, during the period when those talks were still taking place. In stage three, the rebuilding of the Gaza Strip and its homes, schools, hospitals and mosques (60-70 % of which have been destroyed by the IDF) would begin. To be possible, this rebuild would obviously require a complete and permanent ceasefire.
Over the past fortnight, Netanyahu has repeatedly rejected the Biden plan, and its third stage in particular. To repeat: Netanyahu has vowed to re-start the war as soon as the hostage exchange is complete.
Netanyahu says he will not end the fighting until all his goals are fulfilled. He openly said that “there was no deal” because it would require stopping short of wiping out the people with whom he is negotiating.
For obvious reasons, Hamas is now rejecting that reading of the peace plan - all of which has to work for any of it to work. Otherwise, Hamas would be obliged to hand over the remaining hostages unconditionally, and the IDF campaign of genocide could begin again. It is hard to see anything positive for Hamas, for Gazans, or for the wider Palestinian people in a scenario where stages two and three of this Biden “peace plan” are ignored by Israel.
Minister of National Security Itamar Ben-Gvir and Minister of Finance Bezalel Smotrich thundered that they would withdraw from Netanyahu’s government and cause the government to collapse if he accepted Biden’s proposal. Their Religious Zionism/ Jewish Power fascist bloc has 14 seats, which would leave Netanyahu with only 50 [in the 120 member Knesset] and would cause him to lose the prime ministership.
Or would it? Netanyahu is routinely depicted as the virtual prisoner of his extremist coalition colleagues. Yet since January, Yair Lapid, the leader of the liberal Yesh Atid party (which holds a large bloc of 24 seats in the Knesset) has been offering Netanyahu the votes he needs for any deal bringing the hostages home.
The reality is that Netanyahu does not want any hostage exchange to take place, if it is inextricably linked to a peace deal in Gaza. The lack of a feasible ‘end game’ in Gaza is also reflected in the rejection by Ben-Gvir and Smotrich of any role for even the docile Palestinian Authority in the future administration of Gaza. Yet that at the very least, would be a demand by Saudi Arabia for any future normalisation of relations with Israel. Israel is willingly locking itself into a “forever “war.
Footnote One: The Knesset adjourns on July 28 and does not reconvene until October 27th. Netanyahu must be gambling that if he can only hold things together for a little over five more weeks, his hold on power, and his supply of weaponry (from the US, Germany and UK) will be relatively secure until the eve of the US election, and beyond.
Footnote Two: Reportedly, the IDF top generals are quite supportive of stage one at least of the Biden deal. By their reasoning, Hamas is almost defeated, and a ceasefire respite would allow the IDF to re-deploy to the northern border front against Hezbollah, with the option always being open of returning to Gaza later, and finishing the job.
One of the many problems with that IDF scenario is that Hamas is now an almost totally de-centralised cluster of loosely affiliated local guerrilla units who – even if the official “leadership” is killed - will still be able to inflict significant casualties on any occupation force. The closest analogy would be the war against the French occupation of Algeria. Ultimately, the French lost, no matter how many Algerians they killed.
Footnote Three: As happened a couple of months ago in the brief confrontation with Iran, Israel has been the main aggressor in the border fighting with Hezbollah. (Israel bombed the Iranian embassy In Damascus, and only Iran’s relative restraint prevented a wider war breaking out) Similarly, a week ago, Israel carried out the targeted killing of a very senior Hezbollah commander, Taleb Sami Abdullah – thereby triggering a flurry of Hezbollah responses.
Once again, Israel has been using its military might to threaten a wider regional war. At heart, Israel always knows that if it can perpetuate the sense that its existential survival is under threat, the US will never desert it. For that reason, fostering peace with its neighbours is not seen by the Israeli government, to be in Israel’s best interests.Australia is different
Anzac buddies, mutual holiday destinations, sporting frenemies etc etc, but Australians are truly not like us. Case in point: last week in political polling, Peter Dutton became Australia’s preferred choice as Prime Minister, inching ahead of Anthony Albanese for the first time.
Sure, Albanese has many flaws… but Peter Dutton? It is the Tony Abbott Syndrome again. How on earth can any Australians bring themselves to vote for such a deeply unattractive creature?
I know, New Zealand isn’t exactly covering itself with glory either right now, but Christopher Luxon seems more of a buffoon than an evil-doer. Dutton though, has the dead-eyed stare of a Bond supervillain. Oh, and the conservative coalition has also edged ahead of Labor in the first preference vote. No wonder Albanese has reneged on the 501 deal with New Zealand. This isn’t a good time for the Labor government to be looking soft on crime.
BTW, in case you’ve ever wondered why there is no “u” in the Australian Labor party, this was an early branding exercise carried out in 1912 to “modernise” the party, and to put distance between itself and the wider labour movement. It was also meant to differentiate Labor from other Labour political parties elsewhere in the world. Australians are different, alright.The mansions of metal
Metal is a castle with many rooms – some devoted to the darkly neo-Satanic side, some to moshpit good times, and some tending towards the dreamily psychedelic states we all associate with shoegaze. To my mind, Hum’s “Stars” remains the crunchy epitome of 1990s stoner pop metal:
Talking of the 1990s and guitar workouts, Doug Martsch originally wrote this next track for his old group the Halo Benders. This live version by Built to Spill though, is Martsch’s definitive recording of “ Virginia Reel Around the Fountain.” That lyric “ I still confide in you almost every day/even though you’re not around..” is gold. We’ve all been to that place:
Since Slowdive – both back in its early 90s hey-day and in its triumphant return in 2017 – has always been one of the best shoegaze bands, it is worth checking out this new single by Three Quarter Skies, a group led by Slowdive’s drummer, Simon Scott. The vocals are by Dave Pierce, from Flying Saucer Attack:

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