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Ceasefire talks in turmoil as Hamas responds to proposal

Eyad Baba/AFP/Getty Images

A Palestinian woman watches smoke billowing following an Israeli strike south of Gaza City, in the town of al-Zawaida, in the central Gaza Strip, June 11, 2024.


Negotiations aimed at reaching a ceasefire and hostage deal that could end the war in Gaza were thrown into doubt Tuesday night when Israel called Hamas’ response to the latest proposal a rejection , precipitating a blame game between the two parties.

Hamas submitted its response to Qatari mediators, proposing amendments to the Israeli proposal, including a timetable for a permanent ceasefire and a complete Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, a source familiar with the matter told CNN on Tuesday. talks.

Talks are expected to continue through Qatari and Egyptian mediators, in coordination with the United States, to see if an agreement can be reached, the source added.

After submitting its response on Tuesday, Hamas spokesperson and politburo member Osama Hamdan told Lebanese television Al Mayadeen that the group was determined to achieve a ceasefire. “Our response is a clear reaffirmation of our commitment to the ceasefire and withdrawal from Gaza, a commitment we have always respected,” Hamdan added.

But in a potential sign of how Israel views the proposed amendments, an Israeli official described Hamas’ response to the initial agreement as rejection.

“Israel received Hamas’ response from mediators. In its response, Hamas rejected the broad outlines of the agreement for the release of the hostages presented by US President Biden,” the official told CNN. Other news agencies report the same initial Israeli response.

Hamas leaders quickly rejected the claim as an attempt to withdraw from the proposal.

“The response of Hamas and the Palestinian factions to the truce proposal was responsible, serious and positive. The response is in line with the demands of our people and the resistance and paves the way for an agreement,” Izzat al-Rishq, a member of the Hamas politburo, said Tuesday evening.

“Israeli media’s incitement of Hamas’ response is an indication of attempts to evade the obligations of the agreement.”

Tensions surface at a sensitive time. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is currently on a diplomatic tour of the region to try to reach an agreement on the plan first unveiled by President Biden eleven days ago.

The plan, drawn up by Israel, has not been made public in its entirety. Approved Monday by the United Nations Security Council, the plan envisages a six-week ceasefire – during which Hamas would release hostages and Israel would release Palestinian prisoners – which would evolve into a permanent cessation of hostilities through negotiations.

The White House has been at pains to emphasize that it was an Israeli plan and has repeatedly said Israel agreed to it, despite the objections of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Earlier on Tuesday, Israel made the clearest signal that it was close to formally signing the plan – although in the same brief statement it suggested that it intended to maintain the freedom to pursue the fights.

The short Israeli communication, attributed only to an Israeli government official, although widely understood to mean the prime minister’s office, began with an affirmation of Israel’s war aims before expressing support for the US-backed proposal. United States and currently on the table.

“Israel will not end the war until it achieves all of its war objectives: destroying Hamas’s military and government capabilities, freeing all hostages, and ensuring that Gaza does not pose a threat to Israel in the future,” did he declare.

“The proposal presented allows Israel to achieve these objectives and Israel will indeed do so,” the statement concluded. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s oft-repeated promise of total victory and the elimination of Hamas was not mentioned.

The Israeli leader is caught between the voices of many people in his country, who believe that a ceasefire agreement is the best way to obtain the release of the 120 hostages still held by Hamas in Gaza, and those of its far-right coalition partners who are adamant that they want the war to continue.

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich and National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir have both threatened to bring down the government if Netanyahu accepts the deal in its current form.

In contrast, senior opposition figures, such as former war cabinet member Benny Gantz and opposition leader Yair Lapid, were also among those who urged Netanyahu to adopt the U.S.-backed plan. United.

Hamas has also been under pressure to sign up to the US-backed proposal, but said last week it feared Israel would not be able to carry out the plan’s second phase – a permanent end fights.

“Unless there is a clear position (from Israel) to prepare for a permanent ceasefire and a total withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, which could open the door wide to concluding of the agreement…we cannot reach an agreement,” the Hamas spokesperson said. Osama Hamdan, member of the political bureau, warned last week.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

News Source :
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