Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Hamas seeks ‘complete halt’ to war in Gaza proposal response

(BBC News) Hamas says it has submitted its response to a US-backed plan for a ceasefire in Gaza, with a senior group official telling the BBC that it still requires an Israeli commitment to a permanent ceasefire.

In a statement, the group and its Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) allies, expressed “readiness to positively” reach a deal.

The proposed ceasefire plan – which was endorsed by the UN security council on Monday night – calls for a six-week ceasefire that would eventually become permanent.

Qatar and Egypt – who, along with the US, have mediated negotiations between Israel and Hamas – confirmed that the Palestinian group had submitted its reply.

In its statement on Tuesday evening, Hamas called for a “complete halt” to fighting in Gaza.

“The response prioritizes the interests of our Palestinian people and emphasizes the necessity of a complete halt to the ongoing aggression on Gaza,” Hamas and the PIJ said.

The groups added that they were ready “to engage positively to reach an agreement that ends this war.”

White House national security spokesperson John Kirby said it was “helpful” that Hamas had submitted a response, and that US officials were “evaluating” the group’s requests.

Earlier on Tuesday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had “reaffirmed his commitment” to the Gaza ceasefire plan and the world was waiting for the Hamas response.

The proposal set out by President Biden last month involves an initial six-week ceasefire, with Hamas releasing some hostages in exchange for Israel releasing an undefined number of Palestinian prisoners.

A second phase would see the remaining hostages released by Hamas and a total withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza as part of a “permanent” ceasefire, but the latter would still be subject to negotiations.

The actual Israeli proposal – reportedly lengthier than the summary presented by Biden – has not been made public, and it is unclear whether it varies from what the president conveyed in his May 31 statement. It was presented to Hamas days prior to Biden’s speech.

Netanyahu has acknowledged his war cabinet has authorized the plan, but has not voiced unequivocal support for it. Far right members of his cabinet have threatened to quit his coalition and trigger its collapse if the deal goes forward, seeing it as surrender to Hamas.

As Blinken met Israeli officials in Tel Aviv on Tuesday, protesters outside his hotel held American flags calling for an agreement. Many held pictures of hostages and chanted: “SOS, USA,” and “we trust you, Blinken, seal a deal.”

He then travelled to the Dead Sea for a conference of Arab leaders calling for greater aid access into Gaza, where he said Israel “can do more”. He also announced $404 million in new aid for Palestinians, urging other countries to also “step up” assistance.

 

https://www.bbc.com/news/articles/cv225l8l7jzo

 

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