DOHA/TEL AVIV/GAZA: Hamas has proposed a ceasefire plan that would quiet the guns in Gaza for four-and-a-half months, during which all hostages would go free, Israel would withdraw its troops from the Gaza Strip and an agreement would be reached on an end to the war.
Hamas proposal – a response to an offer sent last week by Qatari and Egyptian mediators and cleared by Israel and the United States – came during the biggest diplomatic push yet for an extended halt to the fighting.
There was no immediate public response from Israel, which has said it will not pull its troops out of Gaza until Hamas is wiped out.
The Hamas counterproposal envisages three phases of a truce, lasting 45 days each. Hamas would exchange remaining Israeli hostages captured on Oct. 7 for Palestinian prisoners. The reconstruction of Gaza would begin, Israeli forces would withdraw completely, and bodies and remains would be exchanged.
Antony Blinken heads to Egypt to seek ‘enduring end’ to Gaza war
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived overnight in Israel after meeting the leaders of mediators Qatar and Egypt.
A source close to the negotiations said the Hamas counterproposal did not require a guarantee of a permanent ceasefire at the outset, but an end to the war would have to be agreed during the truce before the final hostages were freed.
Ezzat El-Reshiq, a member of the Hamas political bureau, confirmed that the proposal had been passed on via Qatar and Egypt to Israel and the United States.
“We were keen to deal with it in a positive spirit to stop the aggression against our Palestinian people and secure a complete and lasting ceasefire as well as provide relief, aid, shelter and reconstruction,” he told Reuters.
According to the document, during the first 45-day phase, all Israeli women hostages, males under 19 and the elderly and sick would be released, in exchange for the release of Palestinian women and children from Israeli jails. Israel would also withdraw troops from populated areas.
US reviewing Hamas response to hostage deal framework, will discuss with Israel
Implementation of the second phase would not begin until the sides conclude “indirect talks over the requirements needed to end the mutual military operations and return to complete calm”.