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Intensive Diplomatic Efforts: The Biden Administration’s Solutions for Calming the North

Photo Credit: IDF Spokesperson
The Biden administration has engaged in intensive diplomatic efforts to prevent an all-out war between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon. The president's special envoy, Amos Hochstein, arrived in Israel on Monday as part of his efforts to achieve a diplomatic solution to the rising tensions on the northern border. He met with senior Israeli officials and today he is leaving for a visit to Lebanon to continue the negotiations.

The key to settling the conflict is to separate the fighting with Hamas in the Gaza Strip from the fighting against Hezbollah in Lebanon. The path to this goes through the proposal of an agreement proposed by Hochstein. According to the plan, the first step would be to achieve a ceasefire and a prisoner exchange with Hamas in the south. After that they will focus on solving the conflict with Hezbollah in the north. The Americans still believe that a prisoner exchange agreement can be reached with Hamas.

At the same time, the administration is proposing an alternative plan to Hezbollah that involves ending the fighting in Rafah, so that it can focus on the north. According to American estimates received from Israeli officials, the fighting in Rafah is expected to end within a few weeks. If the IDF withdraws from the city centers and moves to a more focused activity such as in the Sderot area, this may allow an arrangement with Hezbollah.

Israeli officials informed Hochstein during the meetings that the fighting in Rafah was nearing its end. According to them: “We are approaching the decision stage. The end of the fighting in Rafah will have a wider regional significance. Hezbollah will either take advantage of the opportunity and agree to a cease-fire within the framework of a comprehensive settlement, or Israel will be forced to act to ensure the security of the residents of the north, even if the price is an extensive war.”
Hochstein believes that there is potential for reaching an agreement, but he warned Israel: “In the closed discussion rooms, it is about ending the fighting and agreeing on a ceasefire, but in public the message is about determination to continue and decide. In order for Hezbollah to agree to the settlement, there must be coordination between the actions on the ground and the public discourse.”

In other words, we must reach a point in time where the decisions are made based on professional and business considerations only, and not on the background of external political considerations, since this is a crucial question of war or peace in the North.
In the background, Hezbollah temporarily suspended its activities following the Muslim holiday of sacrifice, and in the coming days it will be possible to see how things will unfold. On the other hand, Israel decided not to follow the “quiet for quiet” rule and continued to attack from the air in Lebanon, including the assassination of a senior Hezbollah field commander in the Tzur area.

In recent days, local residents returned to their homes and photographed for the first time the extent of the extensive destruction. These photographs are being distributed on social networks and are expected to increase public pressure in Israel to achieve a political solution.

In conclusion, the Biden administration is conducting diplomatic efforts to achieve calm through the gradual deployment of security arrangements. The main question is whether it will be possible to reach an arrangement that will allow the residents of the north to return to their routine in safety, without requiring a large-scale war and the expected destruction that will accompany it.

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