Hamas Says US Ceasefire Proposal Could Lead to Gaza Deal

June 12, 2024 by No Comments

Hamas on Wednesday described its response to a U.S. ceasefire proposal for the conflict with Israel as a “wide pathway” toward reaching an agreement, despite neither the militant group nor Israel publicly committing to a deal.

The group formally responded on Tuesday to a proposal outlined by U.S. President Joe Biden on May 31. Israel deemed the response a rejection, while Hamas asserted it reiterated long-standing demands not addressed in the current plan.

Egypt and Qatar confirmed receiving Hamas’ response but refrained from providing specific details.

This development comes amidst a protracted conflict between Hamas and Israel, initiated by the militant group’s October 7 attack against Israel, which prompted a military retaliation from the Israeli side.

A member of Hamas’ political bureau, Izzat al-Rishq, stated in a communiqué that the group’s answer was “responsible, serious and positive” and “opens up a wide pathway” for a resolution.

Another Hamas official disclosed to Reuters on Tuesday that the response reaffirmed their stance that a ceasefire must permanently end hostilities in Gaza, necessitate the withdrawal of Israeli forces, facilitate the reconstruction of the Palestinian enclave, and secure the release of Palestinian prisoners detained in Israel.

“We reiterated our previous stance,” the Hamas official stated. “I believe there are no big gaps. The ball is now in the Israeli courtyard.”

Biden’s plan proposes a ceasefire and phased release of Israeli hostages in Gaza in exchange for Palestinians imprisoned in Israel, aiming to ultimately achieve a permanent end to the war between Hamas and Israel.

The U.S. has claimed Israel’s acceptance of its proposal, but Israel has not publicly confirmed its acceptance. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has consistently asserted that Israel will not cease its Gaza attacks until Hamas’s elimination.

An Israeli official stated on Tuesday that Hamas’ response had been received and that Hamas “changed all of the main and most meaningful parameters.” The Israeli official asserted that Hamas “has rejected the proposal for a hostage release that was presented by President Biden.”

A non-Israeli official briefed on the matter earlier revealed that Hamas proposed a new timeline for a permanent ceasefire and the withdrawal of Israeli troops from Gaza.

The U.N. Security Council voted on Monday in favor of a U.S. resolution endorsing Biden’s proposal. Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri informed Reuters that the group accepted the resolution and was prepared to negotiate ceasefire details.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who met with Israeli officials in Israel on Tuesday, described the response from Hamas as a “hopeful sign” but not decisive.

Blinken told reporters that more important “is the word coming from Gaza and from the Hamas leadership in Gaza. That’s what counts, and that’s what we don’t have yet.”

Reuters contributed to this report.