Biden asks Belgium to help end Israeli-Palestinian conflict

US president Joe Biden has explicitly asked Belgium for help in bringing the Palestinians to the table and negotiating a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip. "President Biden confirmed that he wants the same thing as we do: a ceasefire and an end to the carnage," said prime minister Alexander De Croo after his meeting with Biden at the White House on Friday.

Shortly before the meeting, Biden outlined a new Israeli ceasefire plan consisting of three phases. "It's time for the war to end," he said on Friday. The plan was immediately discussed in the nearly hour-long meeting with De Croo. The prime minister said the violence had to stop and wanted to discuss how the partner countries could do that.

"The president explicitly asked Belgium to convince the Palestinians to sit down with him," De Croo said. He reportedly did so because De Croo was one of the first leaders to explicitly call for a ceasefire. Biden also told De Croo that he shared Belgium's goal of ending the bloodshed in Gaza.

'A real chance to end the war'

The US proposal includes the withdrawal of all Israeli troops from Gaza for six weeks, a complete ceasefire and the release of some hostages and Palestinian prisoners. This temporary ceasefire could become permanent if Hamas "fulfils its obligations". The next phase will see the release of all hostages still held in Gaza after their abduction on 7 October.

Hamas responded positively, saying it was open to any proposal that would bring a permanent end to the fighting. But it also expects a full withdrawal of Israeli troops from Gaza, reconstruction of the devastated area, the return of all displaced people and a "serious" exchange of Israeli hostages for Palestinian prisoners.

Meanwhile, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen called it "a real chance to end the war". "I fully agree with Biden that the latest proposal offers a real chance to end the war and the suffering of the civilian population in Gaza. This three-step approach is balanced and realistic. It now needs the support of all parties," she said on social media.


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