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Biden Says Israel has Offered Road Map Toward Lasting Cease-fire in Gaza

Biden spoke directly to Americans who have criticized the violence in Gaza, admitting that too many civilians had been killed and calling the situation “one of the hardest, most complicated problems in the world.”

US President Joe Biden announced Friday that Israel has offered a “comprehensive new proposal” that provides a “roadmap” to a ceasefire in the war with Hamas in Gaza and the release of all hostages held by the terror group.

He said the proposal was transmitted by Qatar to Hamas and the first phase would last six weeks and include a “full and complete ceasefire with withdrawal of Israeli forces from all populated areas of Gaza” and “release of a number of hostages including women, the elderly, the wounded in exchange for the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners.”

He said phase two would allow for the “exchange for the release of all remaining living hostages, including male soldiers.”

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In phase three, the president said, a “major reconstruction plan for Gaza would commence and any final remains of hostages who’ve been killed will be returned to their families.”

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Biden spoke directly to Americans who have criticized the violence in Gaza, admitting that too many civilians had been killed and calling the situation “one of the hardest, most complicated problems in the world.”

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After laying out details of Israel’s latest ceasefire proposal, Biden said the months since the October 7 terror attacks had been marked by “heartbreaking pain” for the Israeli victims, hostages and their families.

“And the Palestinian people have endured sheer hell of this war,” Biden said. “Too many innocent people have been killed.”

He said that included “thousands of children,” and that “far too many have been badly wounded.”

“We all saw the terrible images from a deadly fire and Rafah earlier this week following Israeli strike against targeting Hamas,” Biden said, in his first comments since the strike left dozens of civilians dead. “Even as he worked to surge assistance to Gaza…the humanitarian crisis still remains.”

In what seemed to be an acknowledgement of the pro-Palestinian protests across the US, Biden said he knew “this is a subject on which people in this country feel deep, passionate convictions.”

“So do I,” he said. “It’s been one of the hardest, most complicated problems in the world. There’s nothing easy about this. Nothing easy about it.”

Biden said the US had worked “relentlessly to support Israeli security, getting humanitarian supplies in Gaza to get a ceasefire and a hostile deal to bring this war to an end.”

“I want to level with you today as to where we are and what might be possible,” Biden said. “But I need your help. Everyone who wants peace now must raise their voices and let the leaders know they should take this deal.”

“Work to make it real, make it lasting, and forge a better future out of the tragic terror attack and war,” Biden said. “It’s time to begin this new stage. For the hostages to come home, for Israel to be secure, and for the suffering to stop. It’s time for this war to end, and for the day after to begin.”

Israel this week presented mediators with new ideas on the hostage and ceasefire talks, a diplomatic source familiar with the negotiations said on Tuesday, without expanding on what the new ideas were.

Indirect talks between Israel and Hamas on securing the hostages’ release were paused three weeks ago without a deal after the sides could not come to an agreement on some of the terms.

On Thursday, Hamas said it had informed mediators that they are “prepared to reach a comprehensive agreement” that includes a full hostage and prisoner exchange deal if Israel stops its war in Gaza.

A statement from the group said while it had shown “flexibility and positivity in dealing with the efforts of the mediators throughout all previous rounds of indirect negotiations.” Israel, Hamas said, had used the months of ongoing talks as a cover to continue its war in Gaza.

“Hamas and the Palestinian factions will not accept being part of this policy of continuous negotiations in the face of aggression, killing, siege, starvation, and genocide of our people,” the Hamas statement said.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly insisted that the war must continue until Hamas is completely destroyed.

The president, who returned to the White House from his beach home in Delaware earlier in the morning, had avoided commenting on the situation in Israel for several days.

Earlier on Friday, Israel said its forces have entered central Rafah, the city in southern Gaza that Biden has warned should not be the target of a major ground offensive.

The White House called images from the disaster “heartbreaking” but said the incident had not crossed Biden’s red line for withholding some US weapons shipments to Israel.

Biden will be speaking as negotiations continue to secure the release of hostages in exchange for a temporary ceasefire in the war between Israel and Hamas. Israel recently issued a new proposal to secure the hostages’ release.

The president told CNN’s Erin Burnett in an interview this month that he would limit some US arms to Israel if the country’s military “go into Rafah.”

But he has remained vague about how he will quantify such a decision, leading to frustrations and a degree of confusion over his stance. Many Democrats, along with foreign leaders who the US counts as allies, say Israel’s actions clearly cross a red line – if not Biden’s, then their own and those of international law.

White House officials have sought this week to explain Biden’s stance, suggesting his barometer for changing policy would be a “major ground invasion” of the city.

A major ground invasion, national security spokesman John Kirby has said, would be obvious should it begin: “Lots of units of tens of thousands of troops or thousands of troops moving in a coordinated set of maneuvers against a wide variety of targets on the ground in a massive way. That’s a major ground operation. Pretty simple.”


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