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Biden admin continues pushing Gaza ceasefire proposal despite Hamas rejection, Israeli reservations

Joe Biden

The US has recently praised Israel for its willingness to make compromises in ceasefire negotiations while describing Hamas as an ‘obstacle’ to a truce.

By Corey Walker, The Algemeiner

The Biden administration is still publicly pressuring both Israel and Hamas to accept a ceasefire deal unveiled by US President Joe Biden last week to end the fighting in Gaza, despite the Palestinian terror group seemingly rejecting the proposal and issuing statements irreconcilable with Israel’s position.

Leaders of Hamas, which rules Gaza, have for months refused to make concessions for a truce, insisting on a permanent ceasefire and full Israeli withdrawal in order to reach an agreement.

The Islamist terror group, which launched the ongoing war with its Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israel, has argued that the current iteration of the ceasefire deal does not guarantee either condition.

“We informed the mediators that we could not agree to a deal that would not guarantee a permanent ceasefire and a complete withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, along with a serious prisoner deal,” senior Hamas official Osama Hamdan told a televised press conference earlier this week.

On Thursday, Hamdan dismissed the terms of the ceasefire as “just words.”

“There is no proposal — they are just words said by Biden in a speech,” he told AFP. “So far, the Americans have not presented anything documented or written that commits them to what Biden said in his speech.”

Another senior Hamas official, Sami Abu Zuhri, welcomed what he called “Biden‘s ideas” but similarly said Hamas’ demands were not met.

“The Israeli documents speak of open-ended negotiation with no deadline, and it speaks of a stage during which the occupation regains its hostages and resumes the war,” he told Reuters, referring to the hostages who Hamas terrorists kidnapped and brought to Gaza on Oct. 7. “We had told the mediators that such a paper wasn’t acceptable to us.”

Hamas political chief Ismail Haniyeh echoed those sentiments on Wednesday in what appeared to be the terrorist group’s reply to Biden’s proposal.

In a speech last Friday, Biden disclosed that a day earlier, a new three-phase Israeli proposal for a hostage deal was passed onto Hamas through Qatar and detailed some of its main terms.

Biden said the deal would “bring all the hostages home, ensure Israel’s security, create a better day after in Gaza without Hamas in power, and set the stage for a political settlement that provides a better future for Israelis and Palestinians alike.”

The first phase of the ceasefire plan, as described by Biden, would last six weeks and include a “full and complete ceasefire” between Israel and Hamas and the “withdrawal of Israeli forces from all populated areas of Gaza.” It would also include the “release of a number of hostages” in exchange for “the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners.”

During this six-week period, Israel and Hamas would negotiate the “necessary arrangements” in order to transition to the second phase and a “permanent end” to the war, including a full Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, Biden explained.

One sticking point could be whether Hamas is allowed to remain in power in Gaza.

Yahya Sinwar, the leader of Hamas in Gaza and the mastermind of the Oct. 7 massacre, asserted that the group will not accept any ceasefire deal that requires disarmament.

“Hamas will not surrender its guns or sign a proposal that asks for that,” Sinwar said this week, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Meanwhile, Israeli officials have also expressed reservations about the current version of the ceasefire deal, despite Biden describing it as an Israeli proposal.

Israel has suggested the deal could prevent the Jewish state from achieving its war aims of freeing the hostages and eradicating the Hamas terror threat from its border.

On Saturday, the office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released a statement saying that any deal must allow for “Israel to continue the war until all its objectives are achieved, including the destruction of Hamas’ military and governing capabilities.”

“Israel will continue to insist these conditions are met before a permanent ceasefire is put in place,” Netanyahu continued.

On Monday, Netanyahu said that Biden had disclosed only part of the proposal aimed at achieving a ceasefire in Gaza and securing the release of Israeli hostages, and added that he had not agreed to end Israel’s military operations against Hamas.

“The proposal contains more details that Biden did not mention,” Netanyahu reportedly told Israeli lawmakers.

“Biden omitted one crucial detail regarding the second stage” of the deal, Netanyahu said.

“Israel didn’t agree to end the war, but only to ‘discuss’ its end,” he explained, adding that such a discussion would occur after the hostages were returned and “only on our terms.”

“Despite what President Biden said, the number of hostages that will be released in the first phase has not yet been agreed upon. There are many details in the deal, and the war will not end without us achieving all of our objectives. We will not give up on absolute victory,” he said.

Senior Netanyahu adviser Ophir Falk on Sunday gave a lukewarm endorsement to the ceasefire proposal. He conceded that it’s “not a good deal,” but underlined the importance of securing the return of the remaining hostages currently being held captive in Gaza.

There is widespread dissatisfaction among senior Israeli officials who feel Biden’s remarks lacked specifics on how the stated goal of dismantling Hamas would be accomplished, fueling criticism that the US president misrepresented the full scope of Israel’s uncompromising stance in fully defeating the Palestinian terror group.

“People have unfortunately been led to believe that a permanent ceasefire kicks in without Israel’s conditions being met,” Falk told The Algemeiner on Monday. “The notion that there will be a permanent ceasefire before Hamas’ military and governing capabilities are destroyed and all our hostages are home is a non-starter.”

Despite repeated rejections of the ceasefire deal by Hamas and hesitance by Israel, the Biden administration has argued that an agreement between Israel and the terrorist group is still attainable.

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan stated during a Wednesday interview that the ceasefire deal is still “on the table.”

State department spokesperson Matthew Miller confirmed on Thursday that the US has not received “an official response from Hamas” regarding the ceasefire deal and said the administration is still pushing for the agreement.

The White House released a joint statement on Thursday with the governments of Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, France, Germany, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Spain, Thailand, and the United Kingdom, calling on Hamas to accept the ceasefire proposal.

“We call on Hamas to close this agreement, that Israel is ready to move forward with, and begin the process of releasing our citizens,” the statement read.

The US has recently praised Israel for its willingness to make compromises in ceasefire negotiations, while describing Hamas as an “obstacle” to a truce.

Neither the White House nor the US State Department responded to requests for comment on how the Biden administration hopes practically to achieve its ceasefire proposal given the recent statements from Israel and Hamas.

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