The Hamas attacks on October 7th cost the lives of some 1,200 Israelis, saw over 240 men, women and children taken hostage, and left the nation in shock and mourning. Israel’s initial decision to retaliate militarily was justified and internationally endorsed, but we are now over three months removed from that horrible day.
At this point, the continuation of the war endangers Israel’s national security interests, threatens to lead to a wider regional war, and has made Gaza utterly uninhabitable, plagued by death, hunger, and disease. The scope and duration of Israel’s response, and its lack of a “day after” strategy that would harness its military response to a clear political objective, has cost Israel dearly and caused shocking carnage and immeasurable suffering for Gazan civilians, most of whom have been displaced from communities now reduced to rubble. The United Nations has said that hunger is widespread and the threat of starvation is imminent in Gaza. The healthcare system has collapsed, and disease is spreading.
As such, Americans for Peace Now (APN) strongly urges the Biden administration to push Israel to adopt and implement an immediate exit strategy from the war in the Gaza Strip. The strategy must provide for Israel’s security and lead to the return of all hostages. It must also address the dire humanitarian crisis that Gazans are facing and set out a vision for a better future for Israelis and Palestinians alike.
“Continuing this devastating war poses unacceptable risks for Israel, Gazan civilians and the entire region. For the sake of the security and wellbeing of civilians in Israel and in Gaza, the Biden administration must push Israel to bring about an immediate cessation of hostilities and pivot from war to peacemaking,” said James Klutznick, APN’s Chair of the Board.
Ending the war with a clear vision for Gaza and a path toward an Israeli-Palestinian political horizon would make clear that there will be no mass resettlement of Gazan Palestinians outside the Strip and no (re)establishment of Israeli settlements in Gaza.
A first step must be engaging with the relevant world powers to devise a formula for the release of all hostages held in Gaza. A second step must be devising a reliable mechanism to provide essentials -- food, water, medicine, and fuel – to Gaza’s population. Ending the fighting and sending aid are essential, but not sufficient. The United States should also push for a series of steps to keep the door open for a future two-state peace agreement, such as halting settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and reversing Israeli policies aimed at de-facto and de-jure annexation of parts of the West Bank.
Unfortunately, Prime Minister Netanyahu continues to resist not only President Biden’s calls for adopting a
realistic plan for the Gaza Strip once the fighting is over, but also those of the international community and the
heads of Israel’s own security apparatus. Only last week, a full 90 days since October 7th, did the Israeli Cabinet
begin to discuss the nature of the “day after” the war. That meeting ended in disagreement and
Israel’s security chiefs and former senior security officials have told Netanyahu and members of his government that his stated goal of completely eradicating Hamas down to its last fighter is unattainable. The longer the war drags on, the greater the chance that the violence will ignite a broader regional conflict.
To be clear, we are not simply calling for a ceasefire. There was a ceasefire on October 6th. We
are calling for an end to the cycle of violence beginning with an exit strategy from this war, which would be
harnessed to a clear political objective: turning from war to peacemaking by implementing steps that pave the way
toward negotiating a peace settlement.
The Biden Administration should move aggressively to secure an end to this crisis. An immediate deescalation, in the context of a comprehensive strategy, will allow both peoples to begin the painful work of rebuilding their economies, their communities and their wounded psyches, and chart a new course for the creation of an independent sovereign Palestinian state, creating the only chance for peace.
“Delaying the end to this war will only cause further suffering and destruction, and will risk expanding the
conflict to Israel’s northern border and beyond,” said APN’s Chair of the Board, James Klutznick.