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    Gaza Ceasefire Plan in Balance as US Says Hamas Proposed 'Changes'

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     Gaza Ceasefire Plan in Balance as US Says Hamas Proposed 'Changes'
    • June 13, 2024 • 1 month ago
    in summary
    US Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged Hamas to finalize a Gaza ceasefire and hostage release deal, criticizing their proposed changes. Hamas wants Israel to agree to a permanent ceasefire and full withdrawal from Gaza. The US, Qatar, and Egypt are working to close the deal despite Israel's scepticism and internal political pressure. The ongoing conflict has resulted in significant casualties and displacement, with more than 37,200 deaths in Gaza since October.

    US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has urged Hamas to finalize a ceasefire deal, stating, "It is time for the haggling to stop," after the group's leaders proposed "numerous changes" to a Gaza ceasefire and hostage release plan. Speaking in Doha, Blinken noted that while some of the proposed changes were "workable," others were not, and emphasized the efforts of the US, Qatar, and Egypt to close the deal.

    Hamas indicated readiness to engage positively but stressed the need for Israel to agree to a permanent ceasefire and full withdrawal from Gaza. The Israeli government has not officially commented, though an anonymous official suggested that Hamas's response amounted to a rejection.

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has not publicly endorsed the proposal yet, although US President Joe Biden had outlined it 12 days earlier. Blinken stated that Netanyahu had "reaffirmed his commitment" during a meeting in Jerusalem. The UN Security Council passed a resolution supporting the proposal, adding to the diplomatic pressure.

    Blinken, appearing frustrated at a joint news conference with Qatari Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdul Rahman Al Thani, emphasized the urgency, noting that Hamas's delay and subsequent changes were prolonging the conflict. He pointed out that the current deal closely resembled a proposal Hamas had put forward on 6th May.

    Although Blinken did not detail the specific changes Hamas demanded, a statement from the group reiterated the call for a complete halt to aggression against Gaza and the full withdrawal of Israeli forces. Hamas's political bureau member Izzat al-Rishq described their response as "responsible, serious, and positive," claiming it opened up a path to agreement.

    An anonymous Israeli official criticized Hamas for altering the main parameters and rejecting the proposed hostage release deal presented by President Biden. Despite these setbacks, Blinken expressed hope, stating that the gaps in the proposal are bridgeable, but the final decision rests with Hamas.

    Sheikh Mohammed called for both Hamas and Israel to make concessions, noting a clear and firm call to end the conflict. Blinken also stressed the importance of planning for Gaza's future post-conflict, outlining proposals for governance, security, and reconstruction.

    The conflict which has led to significant casualties. Israel's genocide in Gaza has resulted in over 37,200 deaths according to Gaza's health ministry. A previous deal in November saw Hamas release 105 hostages in exchange for a week-long ceasefire and the release of 240 Palestinian prisoners by Israel.

    A malnourished child
    A malnourished child due to Israel's use of starvation as a weapon of war

    President Biden's new proposal includes three phases, starting with a six-week ceasefire and the release of some hostages in exchange for Palestinian prisoners. This would be followed by a permanent cessation of hostilities and the withdrawal of Israeli forces, and finally, the return of deceased hostages, remains and a major reconstruction plan for Gaza.

    Despite the White House's push for progress, Israel's leadership remains sceptical. Far-right ministers are pressuring Netanyahu to reject the US-backed proposal, threatening to collapse his governing coalition. The Israeli proposal, reportedly longer than Biden's summary, has not been publicly disclosed.

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