Everyone Wants a Gaza Ceasefire, but Can’t Agree on the Terms

Foreign Policy Brief #130 | By: Courtney Denning| March 20, 2024
Featured Photo: www.hyperallergic.com

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Calls for a ceasefire in Gaza have been echoed from what seems to be every side of the political aisle for months, yet none has emerged. Sixty-one percent of United States citizens support a permanent ceasefire, and nd while 13 of the 15 countries in the United Nations Security Council voted in favor of a ceasefire, the one dissenting vote from the U.S. vetoed this measure.

Instead, U.S. officials proposed an alternative plan for a temporary ceasefire and the release of hostages. This has left many to wonder why the seemingly popular resolution has not been implemented.

Analysis:

The political bodies at the center of this war have both publicly supported a ceasefire, but have not agreed on its terms. Hamas officials said that the Israeli government is “stalling” by not agreeing to remove troops from northern Gaza. Israeli officials accused Hamas of doing the same by demanding that senior military leaders be included in a hostage exchange, which they see as far too extreme and dangerous.

Outside forces, which are usually necessary for negotiating terms, are also at a standstill. After the U.S. vetoed the U.N. ceasefire measure, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres urgently called for a ceasefire to be implemented at the start of Ramadan, a Muslim holy month that began on March 11. The Security Council, which must make decisions unanimously, is unable to force a ceasefire as long as the U.S. opposes the specified terms.

Subtle word choices in Vice President Kamala Harris’ speech on March 3 reveal why the U.S. may be holding out. Harris, like many other liberals and Democrats, emphasized the struggles and suffering of the Palestinians as her main reason for supporting a ceasefire. She said that Israel needs to “do more to significantly increase the flow of aid,” further signaling her support for the people of Gaza as opposed to the Israeli government.

However, while referencing ongoing negotiations, Harris said that “Hamas needs to agree to that deal,” insinuating that all parties are waiting on Hamas in order to proceed with a ceasefire. So although her humanitarian concerns sprout from sympathy for Palestinians, she still places political blame on Hamas.

Harris straddled the line between liberals’ support of Palestine and the historic allyship that the U.S. has with Israel. But this partisan debate in the United States has gotten in the way of a ceasefire.

The U.S. is the reason that the U.N. Security Council has not been able to implement a ceasefire, and government officials will continue to get in the way of peace as long as they prioritize politics over human lives.

Engagement resources:

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