Biden Keeps Demanding ‘Ceasefire’ In Gaza War — But Hamas Won’t Accept Deal

The Biden administration is increasing demands for a halt to Israeli military operations in Gaza, but Hamas keeps rejecting ceasefire proposals.

President Joe Biden relayed to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a tense phone conversation on Thursday that an “immediate ceasefire” was “essential” in the Gaza Strip — a call shared by his administration and key voting blocs — and urged Netanyahu to reach a deal “without delay.” Israel has made several ceasefire proposals to Hamas and offered generous terms to reach a deal, but the terrorist group has repeatedly rejected the plans since the war began.

Hamas most recently spurned an Israeli ceasefire deal on Tuesday, but said it would review details further; the terrorist group wants assurances that Israel Defense Forces (IDF) forces will begin to withdraw from Gaza fully, that civilians can return to their homes in the north of the region and that a large number of Palestinian prisoners can be released, according to Reuters and The Washington Post. More broadly, Hamas is seeking a long-term ceasefire as part of a deal arrangement with Israel.

“[Hamas] is interested in reaching an agreement that puts an end to the aggression on our people. Despite that, the Israeli position remains intransigent and it didn’t meet any of the demands of our people and our resistance,” Hamas said in response to the ceasefire proposal, according to Reuters.

“The way Hamas uses it is, to quote Sun Zhu, ‘Never interrupt your enemy while they’re making a mistake,’” Noronha told the DCNF. “Israel isn’t making a mistake so much as it is that Hamas has them exactly where they wanted from day one — which was for Israel to defend itself and then lose international political support — and Hamas then believes it is achieving its political goals.”

“[Hamas’] view is that in the interim, they’re getting what they want. And then at some point in the future, they can leverage that international political outcry to get a more favorable ceasefire,” Noronha told the DCNF.

Since Oct. 7, Hamas has rejected six ceasefire proposals, according to The Foundation for Defense of Democracies(FDD). Two offers were turned down in December and January, as the terrorist group wanted a ceasefire first and Israeli withdrawal before any discussion of releasing hostages, according to the WSJ and i24 News.

The Biden administration was optimistic a deal would be reached in February, but this too was shot down, as Hamas stood by its demand for a long-term ceasefire, according to The New York Times.  Israel made two separate proposals for a six-week ceasefire again in March and early April, both of which were also rejected by Hamas, according to FDD.

“We are committed to our demands,” Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said on April 3, according to Reuters.

Hamas has made these demands on several occasions since it attacked Israel on Oct. 7, killing nearly 1,200 people, and has rejected deals that aren’t favorable to their terms, which Netanyahu has previously called “delusional.” Netanyahu has taken a hardline stance against a permanent ceasefire until Israel has achieved “total victory” against Hamas, but has been striving for a temporary truce in exchange for the remainder of the hostages.

There is also an open question as to whether Hamas would hold to the terms of a potential ceasefire deal. A temporary ceasefire was reached in November, in which Israel halted fighting in exchange for a large number of hostages, but it ended a week after Hamas reportedly broke the terms of the deal.

Hamas also broke existing ceasefire arrangements with Israel during its surprise attack against the country on Oct. 7. Hamas and its backer Iran have declared that Israel needs to be eradicated completely.

“Israel is a country that has no place on our land,” Hamas official Ghazi Hamad said in November. “We must teach Israel a lesson, and we will do this again and again. The [Oct. 7 attacks are] just the first time, and there will be a second, a third, a fourth.”

The U.S., which has worked with Israel and international negotiators to craft ceasefire proposals since the war began, presented a separate offer to both sides on Sunday, according to The Wall Street Journal. Under this proposal — a six-week truce — Hamas would have to release 40 of the roughly 130 hostages it is holding in Gaza, and Israel would release 900 Palestinian prisoners, 100 of whom are jailed on terrorism charges.

Both sides were still considering the U.S. proposal as of Tuesday, according to the WSJ. “To be honest, we are not optimistic,” an official familiar with the current negotiations told the WSJ.

Biden initially supported Israel’s war efforts, claiming that he would “never fail to have Israel’s back” – his administration rejected calls for a ceasefire because they were concerned it would allow Hamas to rebuild its strength and attack Israel again.

After months of unrest within his own administration and outcry from blocs of the Democratic party, Biden is now insisting on an immediate temporary ceasefire and pressuring Israel to quickly change course on its counteroffensive — or face unspecified consequences.

“If there’s no changes to [Israel’s] policy and their approaches [in Gaza], then there’s going to have to be changes to ours,” White House National Security spokesman John Kirby told reporters on Thursday.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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