Richard Haass: US Must Take Lead in Israel/Hamas Cease-Fire Resolution

Richard Haass: US Must Take Lead in Israel/Hamas Cease-Fire Resolution richard haas speaks at hearing Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations and former State Department director of policy planning, testifies before the House Foreign Affairs Committee Jan. 14, 2020, in Washington, D.C. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

By Sandy Fitzgerald | Monday, 17 May 2021 10:47 AM

The United States should take the lead in calling for a resolution seeking a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas and its lawmakers should pass a bipartisan agreement because Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu believes he has the strength to ignore "any president of the United States," Council on Foreign Relations President Richard Haass said Monday.

"Bibi Netanyahu has come to believe that he can ignore Joe Biden, he can ignore any president of the United States, because, at the end of the day, he has Congress, he has Orthodox Jews, he has evangelical Christians and they can box in a president of the United States," Haass said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe." "There are lots of things we should be doing to bring about a cease-fire. Not a peace, but a cease-fire."

Sunday night, 28 Senate Democrats Sunday signed a statement calling for the Israeli military and Hamas to reach a cease-fire agreement. Their statement comes during divisions in the party concerning Israel's actions.

Sen. Jon Ossoff, D-Ga., led the statement, which was signed by Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., but Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., insists Israel is entitled to its defensive military, reports The Hill.

Their call came after the Biden administration blocked the governments of China, Norway, and Tunisia from releasing a statement from the U.N. Security Council that called for an end to the violence between the two countries.

"We should take the lead in calling for it," said Haass said of a U.N. resolution.

"Secondly, why don't we pull together all of the Arab countries, some of whom now have relations with Israel, have Tony Blinken, the secretary of state, convene a summit of the Sunni/Arab governments, several of whom give money to Hamas and basically say, okay, let's work with Hamas and get a cease-fire on that side," said Haass.

A bipartisan resolution has not happened in the United States because the Biden administration is "focusing on other things" while hoping the escalating crisis between Israel and Hamas will remain small, said Haass.

However, he said he doesn't think there is a chance at this time to bring peace between the two traditional enemies.

"This is not a time to get a John Kerry-like or Henry Kissinger-like secretary of state, thinking about bringing about a two-state solution," said Haass. "That isn't even on the back burner right now. That's off the stove. What we can simply do, I think, is to make it our priority to get a cease-fire."

Meanwhile, whatever is going on inside Israel will be for Netanyahu, or "more likely his successors" to work out," said Haass.

"I think we're also possibly facing the moment where Hamas becomes the voice of all Palestinians, not simply the Palestinians in Gaza, and we'll have to gradually deal with the consequences of that," said Haass, adding that "this is not a moment for peace talks" but a time to use all diplomatic strength that is possible to stop the hostilities.

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