President Biden unveils and endorses details of a new Israeli cease-fire proposal President Biden gave remarks on the Middle East at the White House on Friday. He said it is time for the war in Gaza to end and discussed a "road map" to a cease-fire agreement.

President Biden unveils and endorses details of a new Israeli cease-fire proposal

President Biden unveils and endorses details of a new Israeli ceasefire proposal

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President Biden delivers remarks on former President Donald Trump’s guilty verdict in his hush-money trial before speaking on the Middle East at the White House on Friday.

President Biden delivers remarks on former President Donald Trump’s guilty verdict in his hush-money trial before speaking on the Middle East at the White House on Friday. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images hide caption

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Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President Biden is calling for an end to the war in Gaza.

He announced at the White House on Friday that Israel has offered a “comprehensive new proposal” that offers a “roadmap to an enduring cease-fire and the release of all hostages.”

Biden said the proposal has been transmitted by Qatar to Hamas, the militant group that controlled Gaza until its attack on Israel last October led to the latest conflict. The Hamas attack killed about 1,200 people. Israel’s response has killed about 36,000 people so far.

The president’s remarks advocated for an end to hostilities and called on Israel and Hamas to accept the plan as the only way to a lasting peace.

The president’s plan came a day after his rival in the presidential race, Donald Trump, was convicted by a New York jury of 34 counts of business fraud. Trump, in remarks hours before Biden’s, blasted the verdict and without evidence said it had been engineered by the White House.

Biden has been under increasing pressure over the conflict in Gaza and his support for the Israeli government’s response. He’s been trying to moderate that position amid criticism from his own allies that he’s not doing enough to stop the conflict.

“People all over the world have called for a ceasefire,” Biden said Friday. “Now it is time to raise your voices and demand that Hamas comes to the table, agrees to this deal.”

Israel released a vague statement following Biden’s address, saying Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu authorized a proposal to maintain its goal of returning hostages as soon as possible, but insisted that “the war will not end until all of [the Israeli government’s] goals are achieved, including the return of all our abductees and the elimination of Hamas' military and governmental capabilities.”

That promise — to eliminate Hamas — appeared at odds with Biden’s call to end the fighting, in which he argued that the Palestinian militant group no longer had the capability to launch another attack similar to its October 7 assault.

Later Friday afternoon, Congress released a letter inviting Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress.

How the ceasefire plan would unfold

Biden began his remarks by first addressing the guilty verdict of former President Donald Trump, saying the justice system worked as it should and that it was dangerous for Trump to suggest otherwise.

He then laid out the three phases of Israel’s proposal.

The first phase is six weeks: a full and complete cease-fire and withdrawal of Israeli forces from all populated areas of Gaza, as well as the release of a number of hostages — including American hostages — in exchange for the release of “hundreds” of Palestinian prisoners. The remains of hostages who have been killed would be returned to their families as well. Citizens in Gaza could return home to any part of the coastal enclave and more aid — as much as 600 trucks a day — would be moved in to stave off what experts warn could be a looming famine.

During that phase, he said, Israel and Hamas would negotiate a Phase 2: “a permanent end of hostilities.” As long as negotiations continue, the ceasefire would hold, potentially lasting longer than the initial 6 weeks. Phase 2 would also see the release of all remaining living hostages.

Phase 3 would be the start of a “major reconstruction plan for Gaza,” and any final remains of hostages would be returned to their families.

There are many challenges ahead

Biden acknowledged that even some within the Israeli government do not agree with the plan and could put pressure on Israel to back off of it.

“As the only American president who has ever gone to Israel in a time of war, as someone who just sent the U.S. forces to directly defend Israel when it was attacked by Iran, I ask you to take a step back and think what will happen if this moment is lost,” Biden said. “We can't lose this moment.”

He said that “indefinite war” will not defeat Hamas and “will not bring Israel lasting security.”

Earlier this week, Israel’s national security adviser said the war would last at least another seven months. Families of hostages also said he told them that the war would not be stopped for their return.

After Biden’s remarks Hamas issued a statement saying it welcomed Biden’s call for a permanent ceasefire. It added: “The movement affirms its position of readiness to deal positively and constructively with any proposal based on a permanent ceasefire, complete withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, reconstruction, the return of the displaced to all their places of residence, and the completion of a serious prisoner exchange deal if the occupation declares its explicit commitment to that.”

A senior administration official put the onus on Hamas to accept the Israeli framework, suggesting the plan was similar to what Hamas has proposed recently itself.

Washington continues to focus attention in Israel

Congressional leaders have spent the past several weeks negotiating a plan to invite Netanyhu to speak to lawmakers. The topic has created complicated politics for Democrats in particular as a growing number of their members have raised concerns about Israel’s handling of the expanding humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

Republicans in the House have advanced several messaging bills meant to highlight those divisions, including bills to define antisemitism and to force the White House to deliver arms to Israel without conditions.

The brief letter of invitation to Netanyahu references the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas on Israel, saying the attack shocked the world and “forced your nation into a fight for your very existence.” Leaders did not propose a specific date for the address.

“The existential challenges we face, including the growing partnership between Iran, Russia, and China, threaten the security, peace, and prosperity of our countries and of free people around the world,” the letter reads. “To build on our enduring relationship and to highlight America’s solidarity with Israel, we invite you to share the Israeli government’s vision for defending democracy, combatting terror, and establishing a just and lasting peace in the region.”