Hamas discusses 6-week ceasefire proposal, official says

Hamas discusses 6-week ceasefire proposal, official says

Hamas political leader Ismail Haniyeh announced Tuesday that the militant group had received a proposal to suspend fighting in Gaza, after representatives from four countries agreed to present the group with a framework that would begin with a six-week ceasefire. fire to allow the release of other hostages.

Mr. Haniyeh said in a statement that Hamas was studying the proposal emerging from weekend discussions in Paris, which included officials from the United States, Israel, Qatar and Egypt. Mr. Haniyeh added that Hamas had received an invitation to Cairo to discuss the “framework agreement of the Paris meeting.”

While Haniyeh’s statement said Hamas was studying the proposal and thanked Qatar and Egypt for their efforts, he highlighted the group’s long-standing demand for a permanent ceasefire and the complete withdrawal of Israeli forces in Gaza.

“The priority is to end the unjust aggression against Gaza and the complete withdrawal of the occupying forces,” Haniyeh said.

Although Israel was involved in drafting the proposal, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu acknowledged at the time that there were still “significant gaps.”

On Tuesday, Mr Netanyahu appeared to object to Mr Haniyeh’s statements, saying Israel would not withdraw its army from Gaza or release thousands of Palestinian prisoners.

“We will not compromise on anything other than total victory,” he said Tuesday in a speech in the West Bank, according to an Israeli statement.

It was unclear whether the two men’s comments were intended to outline negotiating positions.

After discussions in Paris on Sunday, representatives of the four countries agreed that Qatar would present Hamas with a framework proposing a six-week pause in the war, during which Hamas would exchange some hostages held in Gaza for Palestinian prisoners held by Israel, officials said. said. Under the proposed framework, Hamas would release older hostages, women and children, if any are still detained and alive, during the initial six-week break, according to the officials, who said they would This would be the first of three potential phases of liberation. trades.

The officials, who agreed to speak on condition of anonymity to describe the sensitive diplomacy, cautioned that the talks are in their early stages and that many details will need to be ironed out if Hamas agrees to begin lean on the frame. The group’s political leaders, including Mr Haniyeh, are expected to convey the proposal to their military leaders – a process that could take days or longer, as the military leaders are believed to be hiding in tunnels deep inside Gaza.

Mr. Haniyeh suggested in his statement that Hamas was willing to work with this framework, if it helps it meet its demands. In addition to a permanent ceasefire and the withdrawal of Israeli forces, he said Hamas sought to rebuild Gaza, lift the years-long Israeli blockade on the territory and release Palestinian prisoners held in Israel.

Families of Israeli hostages held in Gaza demanded an immediate deal while blocking a road near the Israeli Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv on Monday.Credit…Ahmad Gharabli/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The four-nation meeting in Paris appears to offer the most promising sign in months for a diplomatic deal to ease the war.

The meeting in Paris – attended by CIA Director William J. Burns; Israeli security officials; and the Prime Minister of Qatar, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim al-Thani – intervened as the Israeli government faced increased pressure over its handling of the war, which began on October 7. On that day, Hamas carried out large-scale attacks in Israel that Israeli officials killed about 1,200 people and took about 240 others hostage, making it the worst terrorist attack in the country’s history.

More than 100 hostages were freed during a week-long pause in fighting in November, along with 240 Palestinian prisoners and detainees held by Israel. But efforts for a new deal have so far been in vain.

Families of those still detained in Gaza have called for an urgent deal, and the International Court of Justice in The Hague last week ordered additional humanitarian aid to Palestinians in Gaza, where health officials say more than 26,000 people have died since Israel’s intervention. the military campaign began.

Sheikh Mohammed, the Qatari Prime Minister, said on Monday that “good progress” had been made in the negotiations. Speaking at an event hosted by the Washington-based Atlantic Council, he said talks were the only viable path to de-escalation, adding that the rising death toll resulting from Israel’s campaign in Gaza “n brought no results in recovering the hostages. »

Earlier Monday, Sheikh Mohammed met with Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, who said at an afternoon news conference that the proposal on the table was “compelling” and that “there is had real hope for the future. But Mr. Blinken added: “Hamas will have to make its own decisions. »

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Eric D. Eilerman

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