[Mitchel Plitnick plots the obvious, simplest, and most humane path to avoid a regional conflict: Ceasefire and release of hostages]

The way out

And yet, the way to avoid all of this has never been clearer: stop playing games with the terms of a ceasefire and demand that all hostilities end, Israel fully withdraws from Gaza, and all hostages—Israeli, Palestinian, and international—are freed. 

There doesn’t need to be three stages; just one, where the above terms are carried out forthwith. Hamas has made it abundantly clear that they would accept such a deal. The Israeli people will accept that deal. And Netanyahu will accept it if the United States tells him we will cut off the arms supply and political support for his genocide. 

It really is that simple. Yes, it would still be a political minefield for Biden, but even he seems to have finally realized that the Israeli misadventure to “eradicate” Hamas is a failure. If he is worried about the backlash from the Republicans and from Israel’s zealots within his own party, especially the funders—which, to be fair, will be enormous—imagine what he’ll have to contend with politically if American soldiers are once again being killed and maimed in a Middle Eastern war. 

The Americans seem to have correctly assessed at last that there can be no ceasefire between Israel and Hezbollah without an end to the Gaza slaughter. It may well be that was a factor in Biden’s futile announcement last week.

It was pointless because Biden still hasn’t learned that Netanyahu, and Israel more broadly, does not act because they are cajoled, convinced, or pleaded with. They act when there are consequences if they don’t. And so, almost immediately, Netanyahu made it clear that the deal Biden announced was not the “Israeli offer” Israel meant to put forth. 

If Israel does intend to raise the stakes with Hezbollah, then the risk of the regional war the U.S. fears grows enormously. If all Biden cares about is the politics, the political risk of letting that happen is far greater than the political risk of coercing Israel to stand down both in Gaza and at the northern border. If he is concerned about the potential damage to the entire world that a regional Middle East war could do, then he has every reason to finally act. 


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