The peace deal that never was

Biden’s so-called “Israel-backed proposal” went up in smoke because it is completely detached from political realities in "Israel" and fails to incorporate what the far-right government endeavors to do in the long run.

Several weeks ago, the Biden administration insisted that it had obtained a “ceasefire proposal” backed by “Israel” to end the war on Gaza. The White House took no time to hammer forward this narrative, getting both the media and allies alike to back it. Soon, a resolution was passed at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) affirming calls for a ceasefire, which the US had otherwise vetoed previously so many times in its unconditional backing of Tel Aviv. The idea of this proposal, as mentioned in a previous article, was to “box” Benjamin Netanyahu in, who had never in fact agreed to the idea, by trying to set the political paradigm around him, as opposed to directly relying on him, to thus make him resigned to it.

It did not take long for this deal to lose momentum and fade away. Now, it’s worth questioning if it’s ever going to be implemented. Within that time, Minister Benny Gantz, described as a “centrist”, withdrew from Netanyahu’s coalition government. That changes the balance of power, leaving Netanyahu more contingent upon far-right hardliners who are fundamentally opposed to a ceasefire. Moreover, Netanyahu has subsequently dissolved the war cabinet, a political move that is not tailored toward actually ending the war but amassing more power for himself. To put it bluntly, Netanyahu has no political incentive to end it.

First, the proposal that Israel “withdraws all troops from Gaza” and therefore the ceasefire “returns to the pre-October 7 status quo” is deemed unacceptable. Benjamin Netanyahu placed all stakes in this war on destroying Hamas and building a “new security regime” in the Gaza Strip, which we should understand as de-facto military occupation in all names. For a ceasefire to be accepted, which amounts to a “reset”, in political terms, this amounts to a “defeat” for him and the ultimate end of his political career. 

His government fundamentally rejects the “two-state” solution and therefore is happy to bring Gaza under its sphere of control, especially amid the wide publicization that settlement activity would resume afterward. Benjamin Netanyahu sees his only route to “political survival” as changing the status quo in “Israel’s” favor. History shows us that when sovereign military control over a territory is secured, it is never relinquished unless major political concessions go with it. Hence, if “Israel” will not de-occupy the West Bank in defiance of international law and condemnation, why would it de-occupy Gaza? It will bring the Strip under similar control and incrementally squeeze it.

Second, the United States is not prepared to take any serious actions to force Netanyahu to the negotiating table, and any supposed “measures” against “Israel” throughout the course of this war have been bluster at best. For example, any talk about “blocking aid” to the entity is largely symbolic, for as reported back in May: “The Biden administration has told key lawmakers it plans to move forward on a new $1 billion sale of arms and ammunition to Israel, three congressional aides say.” Similarly, Netanyahu, several days ago, told the press that “Secretary [of State Antony] Blinken assured me that the administration is working day and night to remove these bottlenecks. I certainly hope that’s the case. It should be the case.”

It should thus be understood that it remains politically untenable, be it directly or via opposition from Congress, that the Biden administration could possibly take strong action to punish “Israel”, as much of a double-edged sword as this may be. Therefore, Benjamin Netanyahu is able to simply “drag things out” politically and keep going with little resistance. Soon, he will be able to address the US Congress despite a war crime-related arrest warrant, which ultimately symbolizes not only the political powerlessness of the US to resolve this but also will see him likely doubling down on his war aims and political positions, including the total defeat of Hamas with the route to occupation and ultimate control over Gaza. 

Third, and furthermore, it is feared that Netanyahu will again deliberately thwart peace by invading Lebanon; a scenario that the US is also likely to give support for. This might make it obvious that he sees his political survival resting entirely on waging perpetual war and seeking to impose zero-sum outcomes on his opponents than any pursuit of compromise or negotiated peace, thus changing the status quo permanently in “Israel’s” favor and effectively destroying the “two-state” solution. Biden’s so-called “Israel-backed proposal” went up in smoke because it is completely detached from political realities in “Israel” and fails to incorporate what the far-right government endeavors to do in the long run. 




Tom Fowdy

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