Hamas accepted Egypt and Qatar’s Gaza ceasefire proposal



CNN

Hamas says it has accepted a ceasefire deal proposed by Egypt and Qatar that seeks to end the seven-month war with Israel. GazaIt prompted Israel to say it would send a delegation to the talks – although it warned the plan was far from “necessary needs”.

In a statement on Monday, Hamas’ head of its political bureau, Ismail Haniyeh, told the Qatari prime minister and the Egyptian intelligence minister that the militant group had accepted their proposal.

Shortly after, Israel said the plan accepted by Hamas still fell far short of “necessary requirements” but that it would send a delegation to mediators. It reiterated its commitment to the offensive in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, saying its war cabinet had “unanimously decided” to proceed with the operation “to apply military pressure on Hamas”.

Ahead of Israel’s retaliation, Palestinians celebrated Hamas’ announcements in the streets. In Tel Aviv, the families of the hostages and their supporters urged Israel’s leaders to accept the deal.

Hamas says it has agreed to remain open to the details of the proposals It’s unclear whether this refers to the more recent ceasefire proposal outlined last week or a revised version of it.

A senior Israeli and a senior U.S. official said Hamas had agreed to a framework proposal that differed from the one Israel had helped with Egypt. A senior US official said the latest proposal would end the war and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he would not accept it.

Benny Gantz, a member of Israel’s war cabinet, said on Monday there were “significant gaps” between Israel and Hamas. “Despite this, we are leaving every stone unturned and a delegation will go to Cairo.”

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The previously announced framework, which Israel has helped but not fully agreed to, called for the release of 20 to 33 hostages over several weeks in exchange for a temporary ceasefire and the release of Palestinian prisoners.

After the initial exchange, the bodies of the remaining hostages, captured Israeli soldiers and hostages will be exchanged for a number of Palestinian prisoners while sources describe what sources describe as “restoration of stable peace,” according to the framework.

The White House on Monday confirmed there was “a response from Hamas” to a proposed hostage deal in Israel, and briefed US President Joe Biden on that response, but declined to weigh in on what a deal might entail. .

Biden “knows the situation and where the process is,” White House national security spokesman John Kirby told a news conference. Kirby added that CIA Director Bill Burns was “working in real time on the ground.”

“We still believe that reaching an agreement is the absolute best outcome, not just for the hostages, but for the Palestinian people, and we’re not going to stop working toward that end,” he said.

The news comes hours after Israel ordered Palestinians living in the town of Rafah in southern Gaza “must leave immediately”.

The order raised fears that Israel’s long-threatened attack on the city was imminent. More than 1 million Palestinians have fled to Rafah, where Hamas is believed to have regrouped after Israel destroyed the northern Gaza Strip.

A source familiar with the Israeli plans told CNN that a limited incursion into Rafah is intended to put pressure on Hamas to agree to a deal for a ceasefire and the release of hostages.

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Asked if Israel’s plans for Rafah could be changed if Hamas accepts the deal, Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spokesman Daniel Hagari said the military would continue to operate in Gaza. Operations are ongoing, he said, but the IDF is making every effort in negotiations to bring the hostages home “as quickly as possible.”

Netanyahu is under intense pressure from the radical wing of his coalition to reject a ceasefire proposal drawn up last week and instead focus on destroying Hamas in Rafah.

Orit Struck, Israel’s immigration minister and a member of the far-right Religious Zionist Party, said last week that accepting the deal would “trash” Israel’s military progress.

Israel’s National Defense Minister Itamar Ben Gvir said Netanyahu “promised that Israel would enter Rafah, promised that the war would not end, and promised that there would be no irresponsible agreement”.

But a large segment of the Israeli public has demanded that Netanyahu accept a deal. Families and supporters of the hostages blocked the Ayalon highway in Tel Aviv last week, holding banners reading “Rafa or hostages – choose life.”

Benny Gantz, a member of Israel’s war cabinet and seen as Netanyahu’s rival and potential successor, said the return of the hostages was more urgent than entering Rafah.

Responding to Monday’s announcement, the Hostage Families Forum said: “Now is the time for all concerned to fulfill their commitment and turn this opportunity into an agreement for the return of all hostages.”

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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