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President Biden announces details of Israeli cease-fire proposal

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

President Biden says it is time for the war in Gaza to end. His comments came during a speech from the White House this afternoon in which he unveiled and endorsed the details of a new Israeli cease-fire proposal.

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PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: It's a road map to an enduring cease-fire and the release of all hostages. This proposal has been transmitted by Qatar to Hamas.

SHAPIRO: To discuss the Mideast plan and the politics of this moment, NPR White House correspondent Asma Khalid is here. Hey, Asma.

ASMA KHALID, BYLINE: Hi there, Ari.

SHAPIRO: Tell us about what's in this proposal that President Biden announced today.

KHALID: This is a three-phase deal. The first phase would last six weeks and include a full cease-fire plus the withdrawal of Israeli forces from all populated areas of Gaza and the release of a number of hostages in exchange for the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners.

They then go on to negotiate Phase 2, and Biden said that that could lead to a permanent end of hostilities and the release of all remaining living hostages. Phase 3 then would be reconstruction.

I will point out, though, that Hamas has not yet agreed to the deal, and Biden himself acknowledged that even some within the Israeli government might not agree with it also.

SHAPIRO: OK, so this is a long road before we actually reach peace. Biden sounded resolved today. What did you hear in his speech?

KHALID: Yeah, I mean, this was a forceful pitch from the president. Plainly, he said, it is time for this war to end, and he was speaking to multiple audiences. To the Israelis, he argued that Hamas no longer has the capabilities to carry out a terrorist attack like October 7, and he specifically put pressure on Hamas to accept this deal.

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BIDEN: People all over the world have called for cease-fire. Now it's time to raise your voices and demand that Hamas comes to the table, agrees to this deal.

KHALID: You know, but there is also the reality on the ground inside of Gaza. Just this week, the Israeli military pushed deeper into the southern Gaza city of Rafah, and Israel's national security adviser said that this war would last another seven months. And Hamas has said that it would not accept a deal that did not guarantee a permanent cease-fire.

And then Biden has to deal with the domestic reality here at home in the United States. He has been facing criticism even from within his own party about mounting civilian casualties. And then there is a competing push that he's facing to support Israel without conditions. In fact, earlier today, Congressional leaders invited Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to give a joint address to Congress.

SHAPIRO: Yeah, you said he's speaking to multiple audiences. One of those is here at home, where Donald Trump, just a few hours before the White House speech - Trump addressed his conviction in New York. Tell us about that contrast.

KHALID: Oh, it was a big contrast. You know, Trump spoke to reporters from the Trump Tower, painting himself as a martyr after his guilty conviction and continuing to suggest that his trial was rigged. And Biden, who I will say, notably, has been relatively silent about Trump's legal woes for many months, really took aim at Trump's suggestion.

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BIDEN: It's reckless. It's dangerous. It's irresponsible for anyone to say this was rigged just because they don't like the verdict.

KHALID: In Biden's words, the verdict reaffirms the American principle that no one is above the law. Trump was found guilty by a jury, he said, and the justice system ought to be respected. And he pointed out that Trump, like anyone else, has the right to appeal.

The Biden campaign and this White House have tried and will continue to try to emphasize that democracy is at stake in this upcoming election. It was an argument that helped Biden win the presidency in 2020. But he is fighting a different political fight now, and you see that in the remarks that he gave today about the Middle East. Because, frankly, a prolonged war in Gaza does not help him.

SHAPIRO: NPR's Asma Khalid. Thank you.

KHALID: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Asma Khalid
Asma Khalid is a White House correspondent for NPR. She also co-hosts The NPR Politics Podcast. Khalid is a bit of a campaign-trail addict, having reported on the 2014, 2016, 2018 and 2020 elections. She joined NPR's Washington team in 2016 to focus on the intersection of demographics and politics. During the 2020 presidential campaign, she covered the crowded Democratic primary field, and then went on to report on Joe Biden's candidacy. Her reporting often dives into the political, cultural and racial divides in the country. Before joining NPR's political team, Khalid was a reporter for Boston's NPR station WBUR, where she was nearly immediately flung into one of the most challenging stories of her career — the Boston Marathon bombings. She had joined the network just a few weeks prior, but went on to report on the bombings, the victims, and the reverberations throughout the city. She also covered Boston's failed Olympic bid and the trial of James "Whitey" Bulger. Later, she led a new business and technology team at the station that reported on the future of work. In addition to countless counties across America, Khalid's reporting has taken her to Pakistan, the United Kingdom and China. She got her start in journalism in her home state of Indiana, but she fell in love with radio through an internship at the BBC Newshour in London during graduate school. She's been a guest on numerous TV programs including ABC's This Week, CNN's Inside Politics and PBS's Washington Week. Her reporting has been recognized with the Missouri Honor Medal for Distinguished Service in Journalism, as well as awards from the Society of Professional Journalists and the Gracie Award. A native of Crown Point, Ind., Khalid is a graduate of Indiana University in Bloomington. She has also studied at the University of Cambridge, the London School of Economics, the American University in Beirut and Middlebury College's Arabic school. [Copyright 2024 NPR]