US Unveils 3-Stage Roadmap For Gaza Peace

Hamas welcomes the plan as 'positive' but says it will not negotiate on its core demands of a permanent ceasefire and full Israeli withdrawal

US Unveils 3-Stage Roadmap For Gaza Peace

As Israeli tanks rolled into central Rafah facing off against stiff resistance, US President Joe Biden on Friday unveiled a surprise three-stage roadmap for securing permanent peace in Gaza. The plan, which has been communicated to Hamas via Qatar, was received as a "positive" step.

"It's time for this war to end, for the day after to begin," Biden said in a televised address from the White House in Washington DC on Friday.

He added that the roadmap offers an enduring ceasefire and the release of hostages on both sides.

Even though Israel has rebuffed peace offerings from Hamas since the early days of the war, including a promising opening in which some Israeli hostages were exchanged for some Palestinians, this is the first major peace proposal to have come from Israel and endorsed by the US. A peace deal, brokered by Egypt, Qatar and the US earlier in May was accepted by Hamas but rejected by Israel.

The plan

Biden said that under this proposal, a ceasefire would come into effect immediately and last for six weeks. This stage will see Israel withdraw its troops from all populated areas in Gaza, including its northern enclave. It will see release of hostages, including women, the elderly, and the wounded, in exchange for the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners. Remains of hostages who have died during this process will also be handed over to their families.

US hostages held by Hamas would also be freed.

Aid of up to 600 trucks per day will flow through Gaza, with the international community working to provide temporary housing.

Palestinian civilians would be allowed to return to their "homes and neighbourhoods" throughout Gaza, including in the north.

He added that while both sides will have six weeks to negotiate before transitioning to the next stage, if they fail to negotiate, the ceasefire would continue.

The second phase, which would last another six weeks, would see Israel completely withdraw from Gaza. 

Hamas will be required to release all remaining hostages, including male Israeli soldiers.

Should this phase succeed, it would lead to the "cessation of hostilities permanently" between Hamas and Israel.

The third phase would involve years of internationally backed reconstruction activities in Gaza. Steps will be taken to ensure Hamas is not allowed to "re-arm".

Biden, who has aided in the destruction of Gaza by supplying almost unreservedly weaponry and munitions to Israel, insisted: "Hamas needs to take the deal."

He also urged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli leaders not to "lose this moment."

"As long as Hamas lives up to its commitments, a temporary ceasefire would become, in the words of the Israeli proposal, the cessation of hostilities permanently," added Biden. But he warned that if Hamas fails to abide by the commitments, Israel will resume military operations.

Egypt and Qatar are guarantors for Hamas while the US is the guarantor for Israel.


However, Biden's announcement, which appeared to many to have preempted Israel and Hamas in a bid to pressure both sides, immediately faced criticism from Netanyahu, who reiterated that his war in Gaza would not end until the "elimination" of Hamas's capacity to govern and make war.

Hamas, which welcomed the proposal as "positive", said it would only agree to a "comprehensive" truce agreement that includes a hostage-prisoner swap with Israel if the latter halts its "aggression" and withdraws fully from the strip.

The proposed Israeli plan appeared to be nearly identical to the phased plan that Hamas had proposed a few weeks ago, with some minor alterations.