Argentina co-signs Biden’s Gaza ceasefire proposal

The document signed by 17 countries outlines a three-phase plan: ‘There is no time to lose’

Smoke rises over the Gaza Strip, following an Israeli air strike, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, near the Israel-Gaza border, as seen from Israel, June 5, 2024. REUTERS/Amir Cohen/ File Photo

The Argentine Foreign Ministry co-signed a ceasefire proposal with 16 countries developed by the United States and Israel and sent to Hamas. 

“There is no time to lose,” read the document released on Thursday. “We call on Hamas to close this agreement, that Israel is ready to move forward with, and begin the process of releasing our citizens.”

Apart from Argentina and the U.S., the document was signed by Austria, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, France, Germany, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Spain, Thailand, and the United Kingdom.

Israel and Hamas’ war began on October 7, when Hamas-led Palestinian fighters killed more than 1,200 people in Israel, and seized more than 250 as hostages, according to Israeli tallies. The Israeli military campaign that followed has left Gaza in ruins and killed more than 36,000 people, according to Palestinian health authorities. 

In January, the International Court of Justice ordered Israel to take action to prevent acts of genocide during the conflict in Gaza, in response to a case presented by South Africa in December. Twelve countries have applied or declared their intention to join the case. Israel has denied accusations of genocide.

The ceasefire proposal, outlined by U.S. President Joe Biden on May 31, consists of three phrases. The first — which would last six weeks — includes the withdrawal of Israeli forces from all populated areas of Gaza and the release of hostages including “women, the elderly, the wounded in exchange for the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners,” Biden said in a press conference in the White House on Friday. 

The second phase consists of the “exchange for the release of all remaining living hostages, including male soldiers” and the third, a “major reconstruction plan” for Gaza.

Ophir Falk, Netanyahu’s foreign policy advisor, said soon after Friday’s announcement that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had signed off on the proposal. However, the Israeli leader’s press office later made public comments raising doubts that he fully supports the version that Biden communicated.

Israel’s statement insisted that the war would not end “until all of its goals are achieved, including the return of all our hostages and the elimination of Hamas’ military and governmental capabilities.”

Reuters reported that Biden publicly aired the ceasefire proposal without seeking agreement from Netanyahu, according to three U.S. officials with knowledge of the matter, to narrow the room for Israel or Hamas to back away from the deal.

President Javier Milei has been vocally supportive of Israel since October 7. During his February visit to Israel, the president said he would officially designate Hamas as a terrorist group and move Argentina’s embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and has supported what he called Israel’s “right to legitimate defense.” 

Argentina was also one of nine countries that voted against giving Palestine more rights in the United Nations General Assembly in May, a departure from the country’s historic diplomatic position.

The Foreign Ministry did not respond to the Herald’s request for comment.

Thursday’s document said that Biden’s agreement would lead to “an immediate ceasefire and rehabilitation of Gaza together with security assurances for Israelis, and Palestinians” as well as “opportunities for a more enduring long-term peace and a two-state solution.”

“At this decisive moment, we call on the leaders of Israel as well as Hamas to make whatever final compromises are necessary to close this deal and bring relief to the families of our hostages, as well as those on both sides of this terrible conflict, including the civilian populations. It is time for the war to end and this deal is the necessary starting point,” the text concluded.

—Herald/Reuters

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