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HomeIsreal-Hamas WarIsrael accepts Biden's Gaza war ceasefire proposal despite flaws, aide confirms

Israel accepts Biden’s Gaza war ceasefire proposal despite flaws, aide confirms

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An aide to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed on Sunday that Israel has accepted a framework deal for winding down the Gaza war, as proposed by U.S. President Joe Biden, though he described it as flawed and needing further work.

In an interview with Britain’s Sunday Times, Ophir Falk, chief foreign policy advisor to Netanyahu, stated, “It’s a deal we agreed to—it’s not a good deal, but we dearly want the hostages released, all of them.”

Falk emphasized that many details still need to be addressed, noting that Israel’s conditions, including the release of hostages and the destruction of Hamas as a “genocidal terrorist organization,” remain unchanged.

President Biden, who initially supported Israel’s offensive, has criticized the high civilian death toll. On Friday, he outlined a three-phase plan submitted by the Netanyahu government to end the conflict. The first phase involves a truce and the release of some hostages held by Hamas.

In the second phase, negotiations would aim for an open-ended cessation of hostilities, leading to the release of the remaining captives.

This plan suggests Hamas would continue to play a role in the mediated arrangements by Egypt and Qatar, potentially clashing with Israel’s goal to eliminate the group. Biden has previously supported several similar ceasefire proposals, all of which have collapsed.

In February, he announced that Israel had agreed to halt fighting during Ramadan, but no truce materialized.

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The main issue has been Israel’s stance that only temporary pauses to the fighting are acceptable until Hamas is destroyed. Conversely, Hamas insists it will release hostages only as part of a path to a permanent end to the war.

In his speech, Biden mentioned that his latest proposal “creates a better ‘day after’ in Gaza without Hamas in power,” without detailing how this would be achieved. Falk reiterated Netanyahu’s position that “there will not be a permanent ceasefire until all our objectives are met.”

Netanyahu faces internal pressure to maintain his coalition government. Two far-right partners have threatened to leave if they perceive any deal as sparing Hamas. Centrist partner and ex-general Benny Gantz wants the deal considered.

Hamas has provisionally welcomed Biden’s initiative. Senior Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri asserted on Sunday that “Hamas is too big to be bypassed or sidelined by Netanyahu or Biden.”

Another Hamas official, Osama Hamdan, told Al Jazeera that “Biden’s speech included positive ideas, but we want this to materialize within the framework of a comprehensive agreement that meets our demands.”

Hamas demands an end to the Gaza offensive, the withdrawal of invading forces, free movement for Palestinians, and reconstruction aid. Israeli officials have rejected this, arguing it would revert to the status quo before October 7, when Hamas fighters killed 1,200 people and took over 250 hostages in an attack on Israel.

The subsequent Israeli assault has devastated Gaza, with over 36,000 Palestinians killed, according to Gaza medical officials. Israel reports 290 of its troops have died in the fighting.

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