Monday, June 17, 2024

Report: Qatar, Egypt threaten Hamas into accepting Gaza ceasefire agreement

Doha and Cairo have, on behalf of the US, pressed leaders of the Palestinian group Hamas to accept a ceasefire proposal in Gaza, or face expulsion from the Qatari capital and the freezing of their assets, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported citing own sources.

According to the report, mediators made the threat “at the behest of the Biden administration”, which is searching for ways to cajole Hamas into signing the agreement. According to the report, US President Joe Biden needs to have the deal concluded “amid a political maelstrom over the war”.

At the same time, WSJ reported that these threats had the opposite of the desired effect. The movement announced it would not agree on a deal that doesn’t meet its conditions.

Spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) of Qatar, Dr. Majed bin Mohammed Al Ansari said in a statement on June 7 that Hamas was still considering the proposal, which includes a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip and the exchange of Israeli hostages for Palestinian prisoners.

Egypt’s Al-Qahera Al-Ekhbariya TV channel reported that Hamas will give its response within the next few days. In turn, the Al-Ghad television claimed that Hamas has already gave its response to negotiators, demanding that the ceasefire in the Gaza Strip should begin one week before the planned swap of Israeli hostages, held by Hamas, for Palestinians jailed by Israel.

On May 31, Biden announced his three-phase Israel-Palestine ceasefire plan, with each phase lasting six weeks. The first stage envisages a complete ceasefire, the withdrawal of Israeli troops from populated localities in Gaza and the release of hostages held by Hamas in exchange for the release of hundreds of Palestinian inmates from Israeli prisons. Apart from that, the parties are supposed to begin talks during this stage, with the ceasefire staying in place until they reach an agreement. Phase two provides for the release of all surviving hostages, including the military. The third stage will see the beginning of the reconstruction of the war-devastated Gaza Strip.

On the same day, Hamas stated that it was positive about Biden’s initiative but stressed that it would agree to look at the proposals only after the Israeli side declared its commitment to the same principles.

However, senior Hamas official Osama Hamdan noted on June 4 that the conditions for the Gaza ceasefire talks that were outlined by Biden demonstrate that Israel has no intention to withdraw its troops from the enclave. In his words, Israel “is interested only in one type of a ceasefire – when it can return its hostages – and after that it will resume its aggression against the Palestinian people”.

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