Saturday, June 22, 2024

Hamas views Israel’s Gaza ceasefire proposal ‘positively’

Hamas has welcomed US President Joe Biden’s Friday call on Israel and the group to agree to a three-phased hostage deal leading to a permanent ceasefire in the Gaza Strip.

“The Islamic Resistance Movement Hamas views positively what was included in US President Joe Biden’s speech today,” the group said in a statement on Saturday.

On Friday, Biden called on Israel and Hamas to accept a three-phase deal which includes the release of hostages in Gaza, the withdrawal of Israeli troops from the enclave, a permanent ceasefire, and an exchange of prisoners.

The proposal Biden outlined in great detail appeared nearly identical to the one Hamas agreed to in early May. The main exception appeared to be no reference to the complete lifting of Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip.

US media reports suggested that the US opposed the former agreement Hamas accepted just before the Rafah invasion, but Middle East Eye reported that CIA director Bill Burns, who has led the US negotiating team, reviewed the deal and that the US had backed the agreement.

Biden on Friday put the onus of a deal being reached on Hamas, saying the group “needs to take the deal”.

“The movement affirms its position of readiness to deal positively and constructively with any proposal based on a permanent ceasefire, complete withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, the reconstruction, and the return of the displaced to all their places of residence, and the completion of a serious prisoner exchange deal,” Hamas said.

The group added that it believed Biden’s call for a permanent ceasefire was “the result of the legendary steadfastness of our struggling people and their valiant resistance”.

According to Biden, the first six-week phase of the proposal would include a full ceasefire across Gaza and the withdrawal of all Israeli forces from all population centres.

During the first phase, Hamas would exchange hostages, including women, the elderly and the wounded, for hundreds of Palestinian prisoners. US citizens would also be released as well as the remains of dead hostages.

Palestinians would also be able to return to “all areas of Gaza” Biden promised, and 600 aid trucks would enter the enclave each day.

If Israel and Hamas do move forward with an agreement, mediators will need to work out the logistics of a prisoner swap.

Biden stated to move from phase one to phase two, several details needed to be worked out but promised that the ceasefire would continue to hold as negotiations progress.

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