Gaza War: The United States assesses Hamas’ response to the ceasefire proposal

Comment on the photo, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken spoke with relatives and friends of the hostages in Tel Aviv on Tuesday

  • author, David Gretten
  • Role, BBC News

The United States says it is evaluating Hamas’ response to the latest proposal for a Gaza ceasefire and hostage release agreement.

The Palestinian armed group said it was ready to “deal positively” with the operation, but stressed the need for Israel to agree to a permanent ceasefire.

The Israeli government did not comment, but an unnamed Israeli official said that Hamas’ response amounted to rejection.

Meanwhile, the US Secretary of State is heading to Qatar – which is acting alongside the US and Egypt as a mediator – to try to push the plan forward.

Anthony Blinken said on Tuesday that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had “reaffirmed his commitment” to the agreement, and that Hamas would bear responsibility if progress was not made.

However, Netanyahu did not publicly support the proposal, which US President Joe Biden said Israel had offered when he presented it 12 days ago.

A brief statement confirmed that Hamas submitted an official response to the latest ceasefire plan, which received widespread international support and was approved by the UN Security Council on Monday.

This reiterated the demand for what Hamas called “a complete cessation of the ongoing aggression against Gaza” and the complete withdrawal of Israeli forces from the Palestinian territories.

The Israeli Prime Minister’s Office did not issue an official response.

But a statement was issued by an anonymous Israeli official, who said that Hamas “changed all the main and most important criteria” and “rejected the hostage release proposal made by President Biden.”

A more critical reaction is now awaited from the mediators, especially the United States, after they study the proposal and judge the extent of the amendments introduced by Hamas.

“We have received this response that Hamas provided to Qatar and Egypt and we are evaluating it now,” White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters on Tuesday, without elaborating.

Qatar and Egypt said in a joint statement that they would study Hamas’ response and “coordinate with the relevant parties on the next steps.” They also pledged to continue mediation efforts with the United States “until an agreement is reached.”

Comment on the photo, Today, Tuesday, the Israeli occupation forces launched air strikes on the central Gaza Strip

The Israeli military launched a campaign in Gaza to destroy Hamas in response to an unprecedented cross-border attack on southern Israel on October 7, during which some 1,200 people were killed and 251 others were taken hostage.

More than 37,160 people have been killed in Gaza since then, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry in the Strip.

Biden said that the new proposal includes three stages.

The first agreement includes an initial six-week ceasefire, under which Hamas will release some hostages – including women, the elderly, the sick and the wounded – in exchange for Israel releasing an unspecified number of Palestinian prisoners.

The second phase will see the release of all remaining living hostages and the withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza as part of a “permanent cessation of hostilities”, but the latter will remain subject to further negotiations.

In the third phase, the remains of any dead hostages will be returned and a major reconstruction plan in Gaza will begin.

Netanyahu acknowledged that the war cabinet approved the plan, but did not express his support for it unequivocally. Members of the extreme right in his government threatened to withdraw from his coalition and cause its collapse if the agreement went ahead, considering it a surrender to Hamas.

The actual Israeli proposal — which is said to be longer than Biden’s summary — has not been made public and it is unclear whether it differs from what Biden conveyed. It was presented to Hamas days before Biden’s speech.

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