Israel examining Hamas response to ceasefire plan

Israel says it is studying a response by Hamas to a Gaza ceasefire plan outlined by President Biden at the end of 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”.

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.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has not publicly endorsed what Mr Biden outlined nor said whether it matches the Israeli proposal which was passed to Hamas days before the president’s announcement.



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