Time for Diplomacy

January 22, 2024

To paraphrase Ecclesiastes, there is a time for war, and a time for diplomacy.

We agree with Israeli War Cabinet member and retired Chief of Staff of the Israel Defense Forces Gen. Gadi Eisenkot that the time has come for diplomacy as the preferred option for achieving a core aim of Israel’s war, the release of the remaining hostages.

General Eisenkot, who paid the ultimate sacrifice in this war in losing his son Gal in this battle, spoke out last week in favor of the use of a long-term halt in fighting to pursue diplomacy that could lead to the release of the hostages. Eisenkot forthrightly acknowledged that the fighting to date has not achieved the goals of the war, and it is time for a different direction.

In Eisenkot’s words: “It needs to be said, bravely, that… it’s not possible to return the hostages, alive, in the near term, without a deal.” We agree.

It is time for a negotiated stop to the fighting to bring freedom to the hostages and relief to the people of Gaza.

In parallel, we call for an immediate and dramatic surge in humanitarian assistance to the civilian population of Gaza – led by Israel and the United States – to address the horrific, unacceptable catastrophe there. The toll inflicted upon civilians in Gaza has been unbearably high, the suffering must stop now.

An agreed stop in the fighting and alleviation of the humanitarian crisis will also permit meaningful multinational discussion of the complex arrangements necessary to plan for the future of Gaza and to achieve broader Israeli-Palestinian and Israeli-Arab peace.

As leading Biden administration officials and Arab leaders made clear last week, there is a future in which Israel can be accepted into the region as a full and integrated partner at peace with its neighbors, but that future is only on offer if there is an Israeli commitment to a pathway to a Palestinian state.

Israel had the unquestioned right to respond militarily to the horrific terror attack of October 7 and will have an ongoing responsibility to continue to protect and defend its citizens and hold to account those who perpetrated the October 7 attack.

However, the time for war has come to a close. Now is the time to lead with diplomacy.

There is only one route to ending the Israeli-Palestinian and Israeli-Arab conflicts, and that is through a broad regional diplomatic agreement that creates a definitive pathway to an independent Palestinian state living in peace and security alongside Israel, and in which Hamas is no longer in operational control of Gaza.