Hunter Biden Is Guilty. That’s OK.

Serge Schmemann

June 1, 2024, 7:00 a.m. ET

June 1, 2024, 7:00 a.m. ET

The “comprehensive new proposal” made by Israel for the Gaza war, announced by President Biden on Friday, is essentially a six-week cease-fire that would include the withdrawal of Israeli troops from populated areas of Gaza, the release of most Israeli hostages and a massive relief effort for two million battered, hungry Gazans. The stages beyond that — a permanent end to hostilities, release of all remaining hostages, the reconstruction of Gaza — are left to future negotiations.

That leaves a lot of open questions down the road, all heavily laden with polarized politics, animosities and unknowns. Yet if the plan Biden described on Friday is accepted by Hamas, which looks likely, the cease-fire alone would be a huge achievement for the United States and its mediating partners, Egypt and Qatar — and a desperately needed dollop of food, medicine, shelter and hope for Gazans.

Despite a deafening international outcry against the vast carnage and destruction in Gaza, including heated protests on American campuses and arrest warrants (albeit largely demonstrative) for top Israeli and Hamas leaders from the International Criminal Court, along with considerable pressure from the Biden administration, a cease-fire seemed always just beyond reach.

The reasons are many and varied: The Hamas terrorist attack of Oct. 7 left many Israelis hungry for the eradication of Hamas, cost be damned; Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his far-right nationalist government showed little interest in ending the fight, especially as that would most likely lead to the end of his fragile government and leave him facing criminal charges; the Hamas leader, Yahya Sinwar, insisted that the fighting must end before any hostage release or deal with Israel.

At the same time, the war put growing political pressures on Biden. There was always a threat of the conflict spreading to northern Israel and beyond, and the use of American ordnance against civilians in Gaza was feeding a swelling fury among American liberals, Biden’s constituency in a critical election year.

The president acknowledged some of the opposition the full proposal would confront in Israel. Responding to the longing for the destruction of Hamas, he claimed that the organization was no longer capable of an attack like the one on Oct. 7. Aware that some on the Israeli right wanted total victory, he argued that this would not bring hostages home, not bring an “enduring defeat” of Hamas and “not bring Israel lasting security.”

That is the message the president will have to relentlessly drive home over the six weeks the cease-fire is meant to last, if it starts and holds. All the obstacles to peace will still be in place as negotiations turn to a permanent end to hostilities. And Biden admitted that six weeks may not be enough. But for now, any respite is welcome.

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