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Biden’s final year quest for peace in Middle East

Dec 17,2023 - Last updated at Dec 17,2023

The ongoing war in Gaza is making it incredibly challenging for the people living there and many believe that there is little hope, so it is important to have voices advocating for peace talks and a clear vision beyond the immediate situation that realises long-term stability. This can be seen in the recent American statements that insist on the need for a peace agreement following the war.

However, ending the war requires a wider vision and innovative solutions to prevent a return to an unsustainable status quo which will only repeat the cycle of conflict. Hamas’s apparent preference for short-term warfare is beginning to work against them and may lead to a weakening of their position and popularity. It is important for all parties to consider the bigger picture and work towards sustainable peace.

Recently, voices from Hamas, such as the head of its political bureau, Ismail Haniyeh, stated the group is open to negotiations to end the war with Israel. Mousa Abu Marzouk, one of the highest-ranking Hamas leaders, in recent interview with Al Monitor, suggested in a roundabout way to recognise Israel and put an end to the Palestinian fragmentation to end the war.

Some in Hamas are recognising the importance of not being excluded from future arrangements for the Palestinian issue and from Gaza itself. Logically, it makes sense for Hamas to seek its path within the community through a recognised entity like the Palestinian Authority. By promoting themselves as a part of the Palestinian community, rather than an independent entity, they can show flexibility and align their vision under the umbrella of the Palestinian Authority, which already recognises Israel. This indicates that they may be ready for a political deal and willing to transform Hamas into a political party, rather than an armed resistance group.

While there appears to be some progress from Hamas in this way, it will not be easy for Israel to accept Hamas’s participation after the October 7 sudden attacks. Moreover, it seems to be a tactical move in response to comments from the American administration about the need for future peace and a regional peace plan, including the establishment of a Palestinian state immediately after the war. While there is a lot of discussion happening to find a path to launching these initiatives and setting the stage for negotiations, it is worth noting that the Israeli government has largely rejected these talks for now, choosing to focus more on the war in Gaza and ensuring Israel's security from regional threats.

As many others have highlighted, there is a distinct difference in vision between the Israeli government and the current American administration. This gap has given Hamas an opportunity to shift its rhetoric towards supporting peace initiatives instead of being seen as a hindrance to future peace plans. It is a tactical step on their part, but it could also signify a broader transformation in how Hamas perceives the entire situation, not just within Gaza, but beyond as well.

The Israeli government's priorities are focused on securing Israel and protecting its future. They see the war as a necessary step to prepare Gaza to become a non-military zone. Additionally, securing Israel extends beyond Gaza and includes addressing potential threats from Lebanon and the need to ensure the safety of the northern regions. The recent attacks in the Red Sea by the Houthis have further highlighted the importance of protecting international navigation and trade as well. This has sparked discussions about the need for a global coalition to safeguard these interests. The UK, France and the US find themselves dragged into this issue, as attacks continue to escalate, and targets become more diverse. The recent attack on the Norwegian ship underscores the urgency of forming a global coalition. It is also possible that this could lead to new relationships with Gulf countries that are also affected by these types of attacks. The situation is complex and evolving, and it's crucial to address these broader issues. 

US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan’s visit to Saudi Arabia and then to Israel could be seen as an attempt by the US to re-engage in regional peace. Achieving peace between Israel and Saudi Arabia is not an easy task, but there is an opportunity amid the conflict, especially for this American administration that is keen to leave a legacy of peace as the major success for its Middle Eastern strategy.

However, Israelis will not stop the war until they are sure that Gaza does not pose a threat and that plans for the future of the region will not be threatened by others in the region. These talks require practical steps that pave the way for the achievement of peace.

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