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Israel accuses Hamas of ‘rejecting’ proposal for ceasefire in Gaza | World News

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The talks for a ceasefire in Gaza and the hostage deal were thrown into doubt after Israel characterized Hamas’ response to the latest proposal as a “rejection” on Tuesday (local time), precipitating a blame game between the two sides, CNN reported.

June 5, 2024.(Reuters)
June 5, 2024.(Reuters)

Hamas had submitted its response to Qatari mediators, proposing amendments to the Israeli proposal, including a timeline for a permanent ceasefire and complete Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, CNN reported citing a source.

Talks are expected to continue via the Qatari and Egyptian mediators in coordination with the United States to see if an agreement can be reached, the source added.

After submitting its response Tuesday, Hamas spokesman and political bureau member Osama Hamdan told Lebanon-based TV Al Mayadeen, the group was committed to achieving a ceasefire.

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“Our response is a clear reaffirmation of our commitment to the ceasefire and withdrawal from Gaza, a commitment we have consistently upheld,” Hamdan added.

But, one Israeli official while speaking to CNN described Hamas’ response to the original deal as a ‘rejection.’

“Israel received Hamas’ response. Hamas rejected the proposal for a hostage deal, which was laid out by President Biden in his speech,” CNN quoted the source.

Hamas leadership pushed back against the claim, terming it Israel’s attempt to back out of the proposal.

“The response of Hamas and the Palestinian factions to the truce proposal was responsible, serious, and positive. The response is consistent with the demands of our people and the resistance and opens the way to reaching an agreement,” said Izzat al-Rishq, a member of the Hamas political bureau, late on Tuesday.

“The Israeli media’s incitement to Hamas’s response is an indication of attempts to evade the agreement’s obligations,” he added.

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Notably, this comes on the heels of US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s visit to the Middle East trying to secure an agreement on the plan first unveiled by President Joe Biden.

The plan, drafted by Israel, has not been made public in full. Endorsed by the United Nations Security Council on Monday, the plan envisages a six-week ceasefire – during which Hamas would release hostages and Israel would release Palestinian prisoners – that would evolve into a permanent cessation of hostilities through negotiations, CNN reported.

The White House has been at pains to stress it is an Israeli plan and has repeatedly said that “Israel has accepted it,” despite objections from Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Earlier on Tuesday, Israel had made its clearest signal yet that it was poised to formally sign up to the plan – though in the same short statement, it suggested it intended to maintain the “freedom to keep fighting.”

A short statement by an Israeli government official expressed support for the US-backed proposal currently on the table.

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“Israel will not end the war before achieving all its war objectives: destroying Hamas’s military and governing capabilities, freeing all the hostages, and ensuring Gaza doesn’t pose a threat to Israel in the future,” it said.

“The proposal presented enables Israel to achieve these goals and Israel will indeed do so,” it added.

However, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s oft-repeated promise of ‘total victory’ and the ‘elimination’ of Hamas did not get a mention.

Meanwhile, the Israeli leader is caught between conflicting voices in his country. While, a group believes that ceasefire deal is the best way to secure the release of the 120 hostages still held by Hamas in Gaza, while his extreme right coalition partners are adamant they want the war to continue, CNN reported.

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich and National Security Miniter Itamar Ben Gvir have both threatened to collapse the government if Netanyahu agrees to the deal in its current form.

On the contrary, senior opposition figures like one-time war cabinet member Benny Gantz, and opposition leader Yair Lapid have also been among those urging Netanyahu to embrace the US-backed plan.

Hamas too has been under pressure to get on board with the US-backed proposal. Last week, it expressed its concern that Israel might not go through with the second phase of the plan – a permanent end to the fighting.

“Unless there is a clear position [from Israel] to prepare for a permanent ceasefire and a total withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, which is what could open the door wide to completing the agreement…we cannot come to an agreement,” Hamas spokesman and political bureau member Osama Hamdan warned last week. (ANI)

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