Why Partners Supports an Immediate Bilateral Ceasefire

Why Partners Supports an Immediate Bilateral Ceasefire

Why Partners Supports an Immediate Bilateral Ceasefire

As has been noted by many, the word “ceasefire” became toxic in Israel and in the American Jewish community soon after Hamas’s October 7 attacks on Israel and Israel’s immediate response.  Given Israel’s declared aim of “destroying” Hamas, any deviation or delay was characterized by Prime Minister Netanyahu and his proxies as a betrayal of those killed by Hamas or, at best, a delay in finishing Hamas’s destruction.  Many of us doubted the possibility of achieving that goal from the outset, but were cautious about airing our doubts in public, as the horror of Oct. 7 was too fresh. Meanwhile, the plight of the hostages received plenty of lip service from Israel’s government but little action after the six-day pause in hostilities in November.  One hundred five hostages were released – all women and children.  One hundred thirty remained, of which the IDF now estimates at least 30 to already be dead.

Now, as the scope of Israel’s onslaught on Gaza has become clearer – with almost 30,000 dead, of whom more than two thirds are estimated to be women and children – it likewise has become obvious that the goal of destroying Hamas is not being achieved – and cannot be.  Four months of brutal fighting has resulted in killing just 20 to 30% of Hamas’s fighters. Thus, the fighting could well continue at this level of intensity all year, likely resulting in 100,000 or more deaths, especially given the prevalence of disease and the destruction of Gaza’s health and hospital infrastructure.

Meanwhile, Israelis have long since lost faith in their leadership, which has avoided producing any semblance of a plan for the “day after” Hamas is destroyed.  Rather, Bibi simply asserts Israel will control the land from the River to the Sea for the foreseeable future.

This is a recipe for unlimited and open-ended war and perhaps a full regional conflagration – as well as for Israel continuing on the road to becoming a pariah state.  All of Israel’s allies now recognize that the killing must be ended, by pressure on both sides if necessary.

Partners for Progressive Israel urges the US government to publicly support an immediate bilateral ceasefire in place, and the immediate release of Israeli hostages held by Hamas in exchange for the release of a specified number of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.  Since both sides are currently resisting a ceasefire by adding conditions making it unworkable, the US and Qatar should agree to pressure Israel and Hamas, respectively, until a ceasefire is agreed to by both sides.  This must be accomplished no later than March 10, which marks the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan.

Such a ceasefire should be the prelude to intensive diplomatic efforts to begin a transition to a new reality in the Middle East, including Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza and recognition by the US and other European countries of the State of Palestine, as well as a revitalization of the Palestinian Authority.  But the first – and immediate – step must be the conclusion and enforcement of a bilateral ceasefire between Hamas and Israel.

Paul Scham
President, Partners for Progressive Israel

By | 2024-02-20T11:49:53-05:00 February 20th, 2024|Advocacy, American Jewish community, Gaza, Palestinians, Peace, politics, The Occupation|0 Comments

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