After months of using its veto to block UN Security Council calls for a ceasefire in Gaza, the United States is at long last involved in negotiations for one. The only problem is that Israel is refusing to take part. They want to know how many hostages are still alive and the number of Palestinian prisoners Hamas wants to exchange in return for each hostage. Hamas has countered that the continuing Israeli bombardment means they have no way of knowing how many hostages have survived unless there is a ceasefire. Israel is using this as an excuse not to send any delegates to the talks.

This makes a mockery of any negotiations. In any conflict you agree to the terms of the ceasefire first and use the pause in the fighting for further talks on issues like the release of hostages. Israel does not want a ceasefire until they have completed their assault on Rafah. Perhaps the USA understands that further massacres during the holy month of Ramadan, which is only a week away, will have far reaching consequences across the Muslim world.

That is why vice president Kamala Harris is calling for an immediate ceasefire and met with Israeli war cabinet member Benny Gantz in Washington yesterday. This meeting has outraged Netanyahu who sees Gantz as a rival rather than an ally. This is a sign of splits emerging in the Israeli Government. These splits are driven, not by any sense of outrage at the cruel treatment of the people of Gaza, but by the anger of the families of the remaining hostages that is fuelling some very large anti-Netanyahu protests in Tel Aviv.

So what is really going on? Is Biden now calling for a ceasefire, confident that Israel will sabotage the talks, in order to look good on the world stage and to appease the growing calls for a ceasefire within the USA? It looks like it. If Biden was serious he would be using his influence to force Israel to the table. For a start he could cut off aid and military supplies to Israel which has continued unabated during the conflict. He could lift the US veto on the Security Council and place US muscle behind the overwhelming majority of nations that want a ceasefire now and an end to the Israeli blockade that is creating a famine in Gaza while aid convoys are queued at the border.

The recent US airdrop of 38,000 meals to a starving population is another gesture. America is joining Jordan, Egypt, France, the UAE and Qatar in parachuting in supplies. But this is only necessary because Israel refuses to open up border crossings to the aid convoys. Meanwhile no air drops are necessary for the regular flights from the RAF base in Cyprus ferrying in arms for Israel.

Until we stop arming Israel, they will not see a need for a ceasefire. And we must not forget, amid the carnage and destruction in Gaza, that the Israeli reign of terror on the West Bank continues. Hundreds have been killed, there are arbitrary arrests, the seizure of Palestinian land by illegal settlers is accelerating, making a mockery of any ‘two state solution’ parroted by the West. The only answer is for the anti-war movement here and in the USA to step up the pressure on our governments to cease their support for genocide. We must continue to send the message to Palestine: you are not forgotten.

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