Top Biden aide insists Hamas can be removed from power once ceasefire deal in place

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US bureau chief

White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan speaks during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, May 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan speaks during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, May 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan again asserts the Israeli hostage deal proposal can lead to Hamas’s removal from power in Gaza.

By reaching a deal and “working through” its multiple stages, “we can end up with an interim security enterprise and interim governance enterprise that can lead to a Gaza that is no longer a platform for terror,” Sullivan says at a Washington conference hosted by the American Jewish Committee without offering any specifics on how such an outcome would be achieved.

US officials argued to The Times of Israel last month that while the hostage deal it is advancing may allow Hamas to limp on in some form, the broader diplomatic initiative Washington is pushing would see the terror group marginalized in Gaza by alternative forces backed by America’s Arab allies.

Sullivan argues that the Israeli proposal allows for a post-war reality in which “the Arab states play a significant role in both stabilizing and reconstructing Gaza, so that it is not that platform for terror that it has been in the past, and we can begin down a pathway of Israel’s full integration into the region, including normalization with additional countries, including Saudi Arabia, where the end result is embedded in security architecture that makes it more secure.”

He clarifies that the Arab cooperation is contingent on Israel agreeing to establish a pathway to a future Palestinian state — a requirement repeatedly rejected by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Sullivan recognizes that Israeli support for a two-state solution is limited, particularly after October 7. However, he insists that the benefits that will come with the necessary compromises to the Palestinians will leave Israel more secure than it currently is due to the united regional front it will build against Iran.

Netanyahu has also chafed at the US approach and has insisted that the Israeli hostage deal offer would allow it to continue the war until Hamas’s military and governing capabilities have been dismantled.

While the offer has not been fully publicized, Channel 12 on Monday revealed what is said were key components of the proposal that contradicted Netanyahu’s claims. The premier’s office denounced the report as “a total lie.”

Sullivan was also pressed on Washington’s abstention on a UN Security Council resolution in March that called for an immediate ceasefire and hostage release.

Israel opposed the resolution, arguing that it didn’t directly link the ceasefire to the release of the hostages — an assertion rejected by the US.

Sullivan argues that the resolution was sufficiently in line with US policy for the administration to allow it to pass.

Moreover, he asserts that Washington’s flexibility on the matter allowed it to maintain good enough standing with other Security Council members in order to get them on board with yesterday’s resolution, which singled out Hamas and demanded that it accept the Israeli hostage deal proposal.

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