The Irrepressible Burden of Possible Ceasefire and Peace: Netanyahu

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Since October 7, 2023, the number of bilateral meetings between United States of America (USA) President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reached 20. The US support for Israel in the early periods has reversed day by day (at least at the discursive level). In particular, Netanyahu’s insistence on the operation against the Rafah, where around one million Palestinians live in Gaza, was met with Biden’s reaction. Although U.S. Officials have stated that they will not accept this “extreme” invasion plan under any circumstances, Netanyahu persistently repeats his statements that the Israeli Army will carry out a high-powered operation against Rafah.

The Biden Administration, on the other hand, underlines the offer of a ceasefire of at least six weeks, which was expressed once again in the meeting with King Abdullah of Jordan and would allow for a hostage exchange. As a continuation of the ceasefire, the establishment of an independent Palestinian State is emphasized by putting into effect a peace plan in which the basic framework is determined. However, Biden continued this message by adding that he encouraged Israeli leaders to continue working to reach an agreement on the ceasefire and peace plan. This situation raises questions about the fate of the plan in question.

On the other hand, U.S. Officials stated in an interview with the Wall Street Journal that they have launched a new investigation into whether Israel misused American bombs and missiles in Gaza attacks against civilians and in military operations against Lebanon using white phosphorus bombs. As a result of these developments, it is possible to say that Biden’s influence on Netanyahu has begun to weaken. This prediction immediately brings to mind the fact that Biden has known Netanyahu for fifty years and said, “Bibi, I love you but I don’t agree with a damn thing you had to say” at a charity event held in December 2023.[1] While it is unrealistic to say that the USA’s recent initiatives are being continued despite Israel, it is also not considered rational to say that there is coordination between Biden and Netanyahu.

Responding to the Arab and world public opinion’s criticism that the USA was insufficient to prevent Israel’s aggressive attitude, U.S. State Department Spokesperson Matthew Miller used the following statements:[2] “Sometimes people pretend that the United States of America has a magic wand that it can wave to make any situation in the world roll out in exactly the way that we would want it to, and that is never the case.” On February 13, 2024, Miller cushioned possible Israeli reactions by saying that the investigation process was not designed as an investigation that would trigger a rapid policy change.

In the article titled “U.S., Arab nations plan for postwar Gaza, timeline for Palestinian state” published in the Washington Post on February 15, 2024,[3] it was stated that the USA and its Middle Eastern partners made great efforts to put the ceasefire process, including the hostage exchange agreement, into effect, especially before Ramadan.

Although the group consisting of representatives from the USA, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates and Palestine are close to reaching an agreement on the process that will begin with a hostage exchange, they are also aware that Israel will throw away all these efforts if it attacks Rafah, and this fear is exacerbating the process in question. On the other hand, there are four important criteria that the parties must impose on Israel to ensure peace. These; include the evacuation of all or most of the Jewish settlements in the West Bank, the acceptance of East Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Palestine, the reconstruction of Gaza and the establishment of a structure that will establish a security and administrative relationship between the West Bank and Gaza.

In addition to the expectation of a final response from Israel, the hope of the five is that in return for these criteria, Israel will be content with asking for certain security guarantees and the progress of normalization processes with other Arab States, especially Saudi Arabia. Netanyahu, on the program he attended on ABC television on February 11, 2024, stated that they would not accept the “two-state” solution without making any comments about these proposals, and also stated that security in the west of the Jordan River should continue to be provided by Israel.

Netanyahu also emphasized that Israel can sit at the solution table if Hamas comes up with realistic proposals, otherwise, they will not take seriously an offer such as a complete withdrawal from the region that would ignore Israel’s security concerns. Hamas, on the other hand, does not want to see Israeli soldiers in Gaza anymore and insists on ending the slaughter of innocent Palestinians.

On the Palestinian front, in addition to the insistence from Hamas on the ceasefire/peace process for Israel’s complete withdrawal from Gaza, there was also an objection from the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). Tawfik Tirawi, a member of the Fatah Central Committee, reacted harshly to the USA proposal for a government other than the weakened PLO and radicalized Hamas in Palestine. Tiravi stated that he thinks that the USA may come to the region from time to time and play with the actors like building legos and that if a new state is to be established in Palestine, the administration and leadership will make their own decisions.

The Biden Administration, which, on the one hand, is fighting to keep the solution table shaken by the relevant parties alive, and on the other hand, wants to alleviate the heavy agenda of the upcoming presidential elections and the reactions accumulated on it, is looking for a way out to manage the problem alone. While, primary initiatives are being taken within the framework of the five mentioned above, it also aims to share both the burden of initiative and indirectly the burden of putting pressure on Israel by bringing the issue to the agenda at the Munich Security Conference, which started on February 16, 2024. However, the burden posed by Netanyahu does not seem to be off Biden.

[1] “Biden-Netanyahu Relationship at Boiling Point as Rafah Invasion Looms”, The Washington Post,, (Date of Access: 15.02.2024). 

[2] “Key elements of deal for Gaza ceasefire and hostage release ‘are on the table’, says Biden”, The Guardian,, (Date of Access: 15.02.2024). 

[3] “U.S., Arab nations plan for postwar Gaza, timeline for Palestinian state”, The Washington Post,, (Date of Access: 15.02.2024). 

He completed his undergraduate education at Gazi University, Faculty of Economics and Administrative Sciences, Department of International Relations in 2011. He received his Master's degree from Ankara Yıldırım Beyazıt University, Department of International Relations in 2014 and his PhD degree from the same university in the Department of International Relations in 2023. He worked as a research assistant at Ankara Yıldırım Beyazıt University between 2013-2018. Since 2018, he has been working at Kütahya Dumlupınar University, Department of Political Science and International Relations. His research interests include Turkish foreign policy, Middle Eastern studies, and Turkey's relations with Syria and Israel. Dr Burak BINARCI is fluent in English.