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Biden has introduced a plan to end the Israel-Gaza war. Either side has yet to agree

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

President Biden unveiled an Israeli plan yesterday to end the war in Gaza. He endorsed the proposal and said it would lead to the release of all hostages and an enduring cease-fire. Hamas has not yet agreed to the plan. NPR's White House correspondent Asma Khalid joins us. Asma, thanks so much for being with us.

ASMA KHALID, BYLINE: Sure, happy to do it.

SIMON: What's in this plan?

KHALID: Well, there are three phases to the plan. Phase 1 would be six weeks long, and it would be a complete cease-fire and also include the withdrawal of Israeli forces from all populated areas of Gaza. It's worth keeping in mind, Scott, that this comes just this week after Israeli forces were pushing deeper into the southern Gaza city of Rafah. This first phase also includes the release of a number of hostages, including all remaining Americans, and the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners. Citizens in Gaza could return home we're told and that more aid would also be moved into the region. Biden said from there, they would move into Phase 2, which he described is a permanent end to hostilities, and then eventually Phase 3 of the plan, which would be the start of a major reconstruction plan for Gaza. But none of this is agreed to, and there's still a lot of details to negotiate the move even from Phase 1 to Phase 2.

SIMON: Asma, what do you make of the fact that this was an Israeli offer, but the U.S. president announced the details?

KHALID: Yeah. I mean, Scott, I thought that was very interesting and very key for us to observe. I mean, the U.S. has played an integral part in this conflict. And of course, this administration did help negotiate a prior temporary cease-fire last year. Israel, you know, in recent months, has become increasingly isolated in the international community because how it is conducting the war and the large number of civilian casualties. And so the White House is very key to brokering any sort of deal. The Biden administration says the Israelis have signed off on it. But a key question is, if the Israelis are indeed really OK with all of the terms. And just this week, the Israeli national security adviser had said the war would last another seven months. I will say if you listen to Biden's remarks yesterday, it's clear he was speaking to multiple audiences, including those in the region who might be skeptical.

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PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: Everyone who wants peace now must raise their voices. Let the leaders know they should take this deal - work to make it real, make it lasting - and forge a better future out of the tragic terror attack and war.

KHALID: And Biden made the case that Hamas no longer has the ability to commit a terrorist attack against Israel like October 7, and he warned that this notion of a total victory would not actually give Israel lasting security.

SIMON: Asma, is the president sending a strong signal to Israel that he'd like them to accept the deal?

KHALID: That's right. But I think he's also putting a lot of pressure on Hamas to accept this deal.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BIDEN: Israel's made their proposal. Hamas says it wants a cease-fire. This deal is an opportunity to prove whether they really mean it. Hamas needs to take the deal.

KHALID: And we see the secretary of state made a number of calls to some Arab leaders in the region, also urging them to let Hamas or have Hamas accept the deal. Hamas issued a statement saying it welcomed Biden's call for a permanent cease-fire, but it has not committed to the proposal. You know, I will say this is not just a foreign policy issue for Biden. It has become a domestic crisis in an election year. And there are competing pressures on Biden from within his own party. Some Democratic lawmakers have called for conditioning aid to Israel. Other lawmakers have called for unequivocal support for Israel. And Israel is and does remain a key ally of the United States. After the president's remarks on Friday, congressional leaders issued a formal invitation to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel to give a joint address to Congress. And so we're going to see when that happens. The date has not yet been announced.

SIMON: NPR's Asma Khalid, thanks so much for being with us.

KHALID: Good to talk to you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Asma Khalid is a White House correspondent for NPR. She also co-hosts The NPR Politics Podcast.
Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He is the host of Weekend Edition Saturday and is one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.