Aswat Asharq Al-Awsat :
Amir Taheri
Amir Taheri was the executive editor-in-chief of the daily Kayhan in Iran from 1972 to 1979. He has worked at or written for innumerable publications, published eleven books, and has been a columnist for Aswat Asharq Al-Awsatt since 1987

Aswat Asharq Al-Awsat : Talisman Of Great Expurgation

Barring the usual hitches in any plan related to the Israel-Palestine saga, what Washington is marketing as Biden’s peace proposal may soon well become reality.
Presented in the classical style of a diplomatic plan the proposal suggests three phases for its implementation.
In the first phase a six-week ceasefire, described as “full and complete” will be installed with Israeli forces withdrawing from “populated areas” of Gaza. It is not clear why should a ceasefire need six weeks to be established. Normally a ceasefire is announced for a precise hour on a precise day at which, well, firing ceases. The adjectives “full and complete” are also redundant since a partial and incomplete ceasefire isn’t one.
The phrase about Israeli forces leaving “populated areas” is equally open to interpretation including misinterpretation. Almost all of Gaza’s populated areas have been turned into piles of rubbles. Today, with the exception of chunks of Rafah which Hamas is still present in its tunnels, talking of “populated areas” could mean the whole of Gaza that is now dotted with tents, slums and other shelters of fortune.
According to the plan “this will eventually lead to a permanent ceasefire”. ”Eventually”, however, could mean any length of time including never.
Elsewhere, the plan talks of “a durable peace”. But a peace that isn’t durable is a truce not peace. Such vague phrases assume that throughout the plan Hamas will retain at least part of its ability to fire-otherwise why talk of ceasefire?
The plan offers Hamas another sweetener: once firing ceases and Israel withdraws from “populated areas”, the US will flood Gaza with humanitarian aid to the tune of 600 trucks a day.
In the past six months Gaza’s capacity for aid absorption has averaged between 30 and 40 trucks a day. It is not clear who will check the aid that President Biden wishes to flood into Gaza. Excluding both Israel and Hamas from aid supervision and distribution could mean chaos and violence.
The six-week shibboleth may have not been snatched from thin air.
Once it becomes operational, say by the end of this month, it would cover a crucial period for President Biden’s Democrat Party to hold its national convention in Chicago (19-22 August) free of pro-Hamas students.
The second phase of the plan promises “a permanent cessation of hostilities”, opening the way for a third phase designated as “reconstruction”. It will also provide facilities for release of Israeli hostages still alive and remains of those who have died in exchange for Hamas prisoners in Israel
Paradoxically, the Biden plan makes it clear that Hamas shall have no role in shaping the future of Gaza in the third phase but should cooperate in the first two phases.
The Biden plan may help the various protagonists in this tragedy temporarily solve their problems. Biden could have his convention and, beyond that, his re-election campaign free of pressure from the pro-Hamas wing of his party. Hamas could hope to escape total annihilation.
Benjamin Netanyahu could have his invitation to Washington, perhaps to address the Republican Party. Biden may succeed in unseating Netanyahu with indirect help from Iran whose Foreign Minister Ali Baqeri Kani says Tehran is “in regular contact” with Washington to help end the war in Gaza.
Tehran is heating up the Lebanese front, thus helping Netanyahu claim that having “degraded” Hamas he should focus on the threat for Hezbollah.
The Israeli left may hope to see the current right-wing coalition in disarray, giving the badly battered left another chance.
Nightly if not hourly images of death and destruction have pushed public opinion to limits of toleration. Palestine has become “the cause”, or in the words of Khamenei “the number one concern of all mankind”, the chief vehicle for virtue-signaling and an all-encompassing excuse for the failure of political elites across the globe.
Palestine is the talisman of the great expurgation. The Biden Plan will help keep it intact for future use and abuse.