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Israel Assessing Hamas’s Reaction to Ceasefire Proposal

Isreal said its negotiating team is evaluating Hamas’s response on the outline of the hostage deal and will respond afterwards.

Benjamin Netanyahu

Israel has said it is currently evaluating Hamas’s response to a Gaza ceasefire proposal put forward by President Biden in late May. 

It comes after Hamas’s political leadership said it had contacted mediators Egypt and Qatar “about the ideas” it has been discussing with the aim of reaching an agreement.

Up to now Hamas has demanded an end to the war and a full withdrawal of Israeli troops from Gaza. Israel says it will accept only temporary pauses in the fighting until it eliminates Hamas.

A Palestinian official familiar with the negotiations told the BBC Hamas is no longer insisting on a full ceasefire at the outset of the three-phase plan.

President Biden said the plan which he outlined was based on a more detailed Israeli proposal. The first phase would include a “full and complete ceasefire”, the withdrawal of IDF forces from populated areas and the exchange of hostages for Palestinian prisoners.

The second phase would involve a “permanent end to hostilities” and the third phase a major reconstruction plan for Gaza and completion of return of dead hostages’ remains.

A joint statement from the Israeli prime minister’s office and the Mossad intelligence agency on Wednesday night said the mediators had “conveyed to the [Israeli] negotiating team Hamas’s remarks on the outline of the hostages deal”.

“Israel is evaluating the remarks and will convey its reply to the mediators,” it added.

A senior Palestinian official told the BBC on Thursday that Hamas has given up the condition of a complete ceasefire in exchange for new conditions related to the withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza’s southern border area known as the Philadelphi corridor and from the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt.

The source, who was informed of Hamas’s response submitted to the mediators, added that the atmosphere is positive. “We are going to a new round of negotiations soon,” the source said.

The US has accused Hamas of blocking progress towards a ceasefire.

On Monday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the group was the “one exception” to international support for the ceasefire proposal. Hamas, he said, had created “gaps… in not saying yes to a proposal that everyone, including the Israelis, had said yes to”.

The war was triggered by Hamas’s unprecedented attack on Israel on 7 October in which Hamas-led gunmen killed about 1,200 people and took 251 others back to Gaza as hostages.

At least 37,953 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza as a result of Israel’s offensive, according to the territory’s Hamas-run health ministry.

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