Bepi Pezzulli
International counsel & foreign policy adviser

Biden’s Gaza Gamble Risks Credibility and Conflict

Vice President Joe Biden visit to Israel March 2016 (Wikipedia Commons)

US President Joe Biden’s proposal for a three-phase plan to end the conflict between Israel and Hamas, though ostensibly well-intentioned, faces significant challenges both diplomatically and practically. While released amid much fanfare, the roadmap, aiming to establish a comprehensive ceasefire, facilitate hostage release, and lay the groundwork for lasting peace, is not novel; it rehashes elements of previous negotiations in Cairo, which yielded no lasting results.

The initial phase, calling for a six-week ceasefire and reciprocal release of hostages and prisoners, is ambitious. While addressing urgent humanitarian needs and aiming to repatriate civilians, it hinges heavily on the assumption of good faith between deeply entrenched adversaries. Historical precedent reveals that such temporary ceasefires often unravel due to mutual distrust and Palestinian provocation.

The proposal’s emphasis on the involvement of regional players like Qatar, Egypt, alongside the United States acknowledges reality but underscores the complexity of external influences with divergent interests. The sustained commitment of these mediators, navigating their geopolitical agendas, does not augur well for the plan’s success.

Moreover, the proposed second phase, entailing a permanent cessation of hostilities and Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, overlooks a critical Israeli condition: Hamas demilitarization. By omitting this, the plan favors Hamas, allowing it to maintain military capabilities and political influence in Gaza, undermining prospects for lasting peace.

The third phase, focusing on Gaza’s reconstruction and hostage remains return, is necessary but insufficient for long-term stability. While essential, reconstruction must be accompanied by a robust political solution addressing underlying conflict drivers.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s immediate reaction underscores Israel’s unchanged conditions for war cessation: Hamas military and governing capabilities destruction, all hostages release, and Gaza’s no-threat assurance.

Netanyahu’s insistence on meeting these conditions before a permanent ceasefire underscores Israel’s stance.

The Biden-Netanyahu divergence thus persists amidst apparent electioneering around the Gaza war, risking Middle East destabilization. A more comprehensive strategy, addressing both immediate humanitarian needs and long-term political solutions, is essential.

In an editorial for L’Informale, Niram Ferretti, has highlighted the asymmetry of results. “For Hamas, Ferretti explains, winning the war does not mean defeating the Israeli army militarily—an impossible task given the overwhelming disparity in resources favoring Israel.” Instead, he states, it means remaining in Gaza, continuing to play a political role in its future, and thus claiming to have “resisted” against the “Zionist entity.”

Ultimately, Biden’s plan might reiterate Churchill’s dilemma: choosing appeasement to avoid war may only cause both conflict and no credible American deterrence.

About the Author
Giuseppe Levi Pezzulli ("Bepi") is a Solicitor specialised in International financial law and a foreign policy scholar. His research interest is economic statecraft. In 2018, he published "An alternative view of Brexit" (Milano Finanza Books), which investigates the economic and geopolitical implications of Brexit. In 2023, "Brave bucks" (Armando Publishing House), which highlights the role of private capital in the industrial policy mix. Formerly an Editor-in-Chief of La Voce Repubblicana; is a columnist for the Italian daily financial newspaper Milano Finanza; a pundit for the financial TV channel CNBC; and a Middle East analyst for Longitude magazine. He received degrees at Luiss Guido Carli in Rome (LLB), New York University (LLM), and Columbia University (JD).
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