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HomeIsreal-Hamas WarMediators urge Israel and Hamas to finalize ceasefire and hostage deal

Mediators urge Israel and Hamas to finalize ceasefire and hostage deal

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On Saturday, mediators pressed Israel and Hamas to finalize a ceasefire and hostage release deal outlined by U.S. President Joe Biden, promising immediate relief for people in Gaza and hostages’ families.

Israel, however, remains firm that the war will not formally end as long as Hamas retains power, complicating the timing and interpretation of the truce offer, which has been tentatively welcomed by Hamas.

Biden revealed on Friday that Israel proposed a deal including an initial six-week ceasefire, a partial Israeli military withdrawal, and the release of some hostages while negotiating a permanent end to hostilities through mediators.

The U.S., Egypt, and Qatar have been working for months to mediate an end to the war, but a deal remains elusive. Biden emphasized that the proposal also aims to create a better future in Gaza without Hamas in power, though he did not detail how this would be achieved.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office declared on Saturday that any notion of a permanent ceasefire before “the destruction of Hamas’ military and governing capabilities” was a non-starter. Two coalition members also threatened to withdraw from the government if Netanyahu agreed to end the war without dismantling Hamas.

Hamas expressed readiness to engage constructively but noted they had not yet received details of the proposal. Senior Hamas official Mahmoud Mardawi stated that no agreement could be reached without a withdrawal of Israeli forces and a ceasefire, reiterating Hamas’s commitment to Israel’s destruction.

Israel has been willing to suspend the war in exchange for hostages but insists it will resume its campaign to eliminate the Hamas threat. Hamas wants any deal to include concrete steps from Israel to end the war, such as a full troop withdrawal.

A senior Biden administration official suggested that future interpretations of Hamas’s role might depend on Egyptian and Qatari influence. The official emphasized that any deal would aim to prevent Hamas from regenerating its military capacity to threaten Israel.

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The conflict began on October 7, when Hamas-led fighters launched an attack on southern Israel from Gaza, killing over 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and taking more than 250 hostages, according to Israeli reports.

Israel’s subsequent ground-and-air campaign in Gaza has caused extensive destruction, widespread starvation, and the deaths of over 36,000 people, mostly civilians, according to Palestinian health authorities. More than 290 Israeli soldiers have also been killed.

Public support in Israel for the war is waning amid growing concern for the hostages. Benny Gantz, a centrist ex-general in Netanyahu’s emergency coalition, has threatened to leave if a post-war plan for Gaza is not developed.

Gantz, however, called for the Israeli war cabinet to decide on the next steps on Saturday, expressing appreciation for Biden’s efforts.

Netanyahu’s National Security Adviser, Tzachi Hanegbi, anticipated the war would continue at least through 2024. In the U.S., the extent of civilian suffering in Gaza has increased pressure on Biden, who is seeking re-election in November.

In his Friday speech, Biden urged Israel’s leaders to resist calls for an indefinite continuation of the war. Netanyahu is expected to address both houses of Congress soon, becoming the first foreign leader to do so four times.

He intends to use the opportunity to assert the righteousness of Israel’s war against those seeking its destruction.

Opposition leader Yair Lapid urged Netanyahu to accept a hostage and ceasefire deal, offering his party’s support even if ultranationalist factions in the governing coalition rebelled.

Lapid emphasized that the Israeli government could not ignore Biden’s significant speech, stating that the proposed deal should be accepted.

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