Stabilization, withdrawal, reconstruction — A look into Gaza truce roadmap

Demonstrators carry signs during a protest in support of Palestinians in Gaza, in Amman, Jordan May 31, 2024. (Photo/Reuters)

US President Joe Biden has laid out what he described as a three-phase Israeli proposal for a ceasefire in Gaza in return for the release of Israeli hostages, saying "it's time for this war to end" and winning a positive initial reaction from Hamas resistance group that has endured and fought back brutal Israeli invasion for the last 238 days.

The proposal envisions an agreement that would culminate with a multi-year process to rebuild the widely-damaged coastal enclave, and the return of all hostages, living and dead, according to Biden and one of his senior officials who briefed reporters.

Here are the three phases as described by Biden in a speech and by US officials at a briefing held later.

First phase

The first phase, will see ceasefire lasting for at least six weeks, and proposes "a full and complete ceasefire" implemented in Gaza in addition to the withdrawal of Israeli troops from what Biden described as "all populated areas of Gaza."

His officials clarified that includes "densely populated areas" where Israeli forces are currently operating.

An unspecified number of hostages would also be released during the initial period, including women, the elderly and the injured, in exchange for the release of what Biden said would be "hundreds" of Palestinian prisoners.

The remains of some of the hostages who have died would also be returned, and Palestinian civilians would be allowed to return to their homes and neighbourhoods throughout Gaza, including in the north where Israel has implemented sweeping restrictions.

Humanitarian aid deliveries would also scale up dramatically to reach 600 trucks per day, according to Biden.

Second phase

Biden called the second phase "a permanent end to hostilities."

However, he added that the negotiations to arrive at the second phase could take longer than six weeks as there were going to be differences between the two sides.

"Israel will want to make sure its interests are protected but the proposal says if the negotiations take longer than six weeks from phase one, the ceasefire will still continue for as long as negotiations continue," Biden said, which would mark a new development from previous proposals.

He added that the US, Qatar and Egypt will ensure that talks continue during this period until "all agreements are reached" to start the second phase.

The second phase would see a release of all remaining hostages who are alive, including male soldiers, while Israeli forces will withdraw from Gaza, according to Biden.

He added: "And as long as Hamas lives up to its commitments, a temporary ceasefire will become — in the words of the Israeli proposal — the cessation of hostilities permanently."

One of the outstanding issues that would have to be resolved is the ratio of Palestinian prisoners that would be freed in exchange for the release of Israeli hostages, according to a senior White House official.

"We're not going to work that out now. But it'll be worked out over the first six weeks, and so long as those talks are ongoing, the benefits to the deal for everybody in the first phase will continue," the official noted.

The prisoner swap ratio is a critical issue because in the second phase, all living hostages would be freed, including all male Israeli military personnel. Israel's forces would also fully withdraw from Gaza.

"Temporary ceasefire would become the cessation of hostilities permanently,'" said Biden.

Both phase one and phase two are envisioned as lasting about 42 days.

Third phase

In the third phase, Biden said "a major reconstruction plan for Gaza would commence and any final remains of hostages who have been killed would be returned to their families."

Biden claimed Israel had "devastated Hamas forces over the past eight months," adding: "At this point, Hamas no longer is capable of carrying out another Oct. 7."

In the deal to rebuild Gaza, Arab nations and the international community will also participate in a "manner that does not allow Hamas to rearm," Biden said.

He added Washington will work with its partners to rebuild homes, schools and hospitals in Gaza, where the Israel has displaced nearly the entire 2.4 million population and caused widespread hunger.

That "pretty extensive" process is outlined in the proposal, and is estimated to take between three to five years, Biden officials told reporters on a background briefing. The effort would be "fully backed" by the US, the international community, and unspecified "others," the US official said.

"By the time you get to phase three, I think you're very much in the rehabilitation of Gaza and stabilisation," he added.


Source: TRT