Mon. May 20th, 2024

Cease-fire talks come at a key moment as Biden faces growing campus protests

By 37ci3 May1,2024

WASHINGTON — Senior Biden administration officials are increasingly concerned that protests on college campuses over the war in the Gaza Strip will escalate, citing a potential cease-fire agreement between Israel and Hamas as the only development that could halt some political developments. A blow to President Joe Biden’s handling of the conflict.

The White House has been pursuing a cease-fire deal for months to secure the release of hostages held by Hamas, but the current round of talks comes at a critical juncture in both the war and Biden’s re-election campaign.

“It has to be a deal,” National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters Tuesday.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who is traveling in the Middle East trying to secure a deal, after meeting with the Jordanian king on Tuesday, urged Hamas to accept it. Blinken is scheduled to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday.

US officials see the current deal as the last and best, as they say the Israelis have agreed to key terms and compromises in this round of negotiations.

“The president is very concerned about how critical this is,” one US official said. “There are really no cards left to play.”

Negotiations on a temporary ceasefire and an agreement to release some hostages have often reached a critical stage in recent months and then collapsed. But with Israel now insisting it intends to launch a military offensive in Gaza’s southernmost city of Rafah despite U.S. objections, a breakdown in truce talks could leave little time to revive them later, officials say. They say failure to secure a deal this time could lead to a more violent war and put the hostages at even greater risk.

The flashpoint comes as Biden grapples with growing protests on college campuses and the threat of demonstrations at events for him and other top administration officials over the summer. Some administration officials privately note that a significant benefit of the diplomatic breakthrough could be its impact on protests, some of which have turned violent on college campuses in recent days.

On Tuesday, the White House issued a scathing statement condemning the students at Columbia University took over the campus building forcibly on Monday evening.

“President Biden has opposed vile, anti-Semitic smears and violent rhetoric throughout his life,” White House spokesman Andrew Bates wrote. “Seizing buildings by force is not peaceful – it’s wrong.”

The White House said the president supported “peaceful and lawful” demonstrations.

Although some US officials have made similar comments in previous rounds of talks, this time they are optimistic about reaching a ceasefire agreement. The U.S.’s goal is to extend any temporary truce longer, potentially paving the way for an end to the war. human suffering and also to create an environment where we can move towards something truly sustainable.”

Pro-Palestinian protesters have accused Biden of condoning the genocide in Gaza, a charge the White House vehemently denies. Protesters have repeatedly called for an immediate ceasefire. Biden supported one that depended on Hamas releasing the hostages.

The recent unrest at universities is the starkest demonstration of how the president’s foreign policy is affecting young Americans at a time when he needs their support for re-election. While calling for violent rhetoric and actions, White House officials are trying to respect protesters’ right to free speech.

“A small percentage of students should not be able to disrupt the academic experience,” Kirby said Tuesday.

The White House leaves all decisions on whether and how to clean up pro-Palestinian protest camps to schools.

Although the school year ends in a few weeks, it is not clear how the start of the season could happen For many of the schools involved in the protests, which have so far led to more than 1,200 arrests, NBC News reported.

Ceasefire talks have been deadlocked for weeks, but U.S. officials said they were encouraged by Hamas’ recent release of two videos showing evidence of the lives of three hostages, which may indicate the terror group is interested in cutting a deal.

Netanyahu vowed on Tuesday to continue the large-scale occupation of Rafah, home to more than 1 million Palestinians, whether or not a bailout deal is reached. Even if the US official agreed, Israel could still go ahead, but officials said they believed Netanyahu was playing to the far-right coalition with his comments.

On Tuesday, Blinken called on Hamas to accept the deal, saying “the Israelis have put a strong offer on the table.”

“It’s time to act,” he said.

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By 37ci3

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