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The “elephant in the room,” Benjamin Netanyahu. Facebook

The Washington Post , in an article posted on Feb. 14, reported that the Biden administration and a small group of Middle East partners are rushing to complete a detailed, comprehensive plan for long-term peace between Israel and Palestine, including a firm timeline for the establishment of a Palestinian state, that could be announced as early as the next several weeks. The urgency of the effort, the Post says, is tied directly to a proposed pause in the fighting and release of hostages held in Gaza by Hamas that is being negotiated by the United States, Qatar and Egypt.

U.S. and Arab officials told the Post that an initial ceasefire, projected to be at least six weeks, would provide time to make the plan public, recruit additional support and take the initial steps toward its implementation, including the formation of an interim Palestinian government. Planners hope a hostage agreement can be reached before the beginning of Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting that begins this year on March 10, lest it compound the deprivation and pressure-cooker atmosphere in Gaza.

The “elephant in the room,” as the Post puts it, is Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. and whether his government “will acquiesce to much of what is being discussed: the withdrawal of many, if not all, settler communities on the West Bank; a Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem; the reconstruction of Gaza; and security and governance arrangements for a combined West Bank and Gaza. The hope is that Israel would also be offered specific security guarantees and normalization with Saudi Arabia and other Arab states that would be hard to refuse.”

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