• Friday, 19 July 2024

Hamas says it has sent response to US proposal for Gaza ceasefire

Hamas says it has sent response to US proposal for Gaza ceasefire

Gaza/Tel Aviv, 12 June 2024 (dpa/MIA) — The Palestinian militant group Hamas said it has sent its response to the US proposal for a ceasefire in the Gaza war to Qatari and Egyptian mediators, as Washington insists Israel has already agreed to the three-phase plan.

Hamas and the militant group Palestinian Islamic Jihad announced in a joint statement on Tuesday evening that they would "act positively" in order to reach an agreement to end the war. Their response was sent to Qatar and Egypt, the statement said.

The exact content of the militants' response to the mediators was initially not disclosed.

The joint statement said that the priority for Hamas and Islamic Jihad was to completely end the war in the Gaza Strip, triggered when their fighters attacked Israel on October 7, and that Israel's army should withdraw completely from the territory.

The statement continued: "The Palestinian delegation voiced willingness to deal positively in order to reach an agreement that ends this war against our people, out of the sense of national responsibility."

The news comes amid the latest push by mediators, including the US, Qatar and Egypt, to negotiate a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu supports the plan, according to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and only Hamas has yet to give the green light.

"I met with Prime Minister Netanyahu last night, and he reaffirmed his commitment to the proposal," Blinken told journalists in Tel Aviv on Tuesday.

When asked whether Netanyahu would pledge his continued commitment if Hamas eventually agrees to the plan, Blinken replied in the affirmative.

Details of the plan

At the end of May, US President Joe Biden surprisingly presented a three-stage plan for a ceasefire in the Gaza war. The plan envisages initially the release of a certain group of Israeli hostages during the complete ceasefire. In return, Palestinians imprisoned in Israel would be released.

In the next phase, the fighting would then cease permanently and the remaining hostages would be released.

According to the draft, the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip would begin in a final phase.

Positive signs from Israel

Blinken also held talks with Defence Minister Yoav Gallant and other high-ranking Israeli government representatives. "And I think there is a strong consensus, again, behind moving forward with the proposal," he said.

According to the US, only Hamas is yet to agree to the plan. However, the Netanyahu government has not given its clear and public approval to the plan yet either.

The US ceasefire plan does not contradict Israel's war aims, according to an Israeli government official.

"Israel will not end the war before achieving all its war objectives: destroying Hamas' military and governing capabilities, freeing all the hostages and ensuring Gaza doesn't pose a threat to Israel in the future," the Israeli official said on Tuesday.

"The proposal presented enables Israel to achieve these goals and Israel will indeed do so."

The UN Security Council has now backed the plan. On Monday, it adopted a resolution to this effect.

Blinken's diplomatic efforts

Blinken, who is currently on a Middle East tour to garner support for the latest ceasefire proposal, met Israeli President Isaac Herzog earlier Tuesday.

Efforts to negotiate an end to the war have stalled for months.

Blinken arrived in Egypt on Monday for the first leg of the tour and later held talks with Netanyahu in Jerusalem.

On Tuesday, Blinken also met opposition leader Yair Lapid and was due to hold talks with Israeli lawmaker Benny Gantz, who just quit the Israeli emergency government formed following the October 7 attacks.

Blinken's Middle East tour is expected to last until Wednesday and also includes a stop in Qatar.

Head of UN calls for deal

UN Secretary General António Guterres has urged all parties involved in the war in Gaza to reach a ceasefire agreement.

"The horror must stop, it's high time for a ceasefire along with unconditional release of hostages," he told a humanitarian aid conference for the Gaza Strip held by the Dead Sea in Jordan.

"I urge all parties to seize this opportunity and come to an agreement," Guterres added.

"The speed and scale of carnage and killing in Gaza is beyond anything in my years as secretary general," he said. "Nowhere is safe, conditions are deplorable."