Gaza Ceasefire On The Cards After Hamas Accepts US Talks Proposal On Israeli Hostages
Gaza Ceasefire On The Cards After Hamas Accepts US Talks Proposal On Israeli Hostages
Palestinian outfit considers a U.S.-backed phased ceasefire proposal amid ongoing Gaza conflict, aiming to release hostages and negotiate long-term peace

Hamas has accepted a US proposal to begin talks on releasing Israeli hostages, including soldiers and men, several news agencies reported on Saturday. The Palestinian outfit has dropped a demand that Israel first commit to a permanent ceasefire before signing the agreement, and would allow negotiations to achieve that throughout the six-week first phase.

Reports suggest that the proposal could lead to a framework agreement if embraced by Israel and would end the nine-month-old war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. Central Intelligence Agency Director William Burns will travel to Qatar next week for negotiations, according to Reuters. The talks would focus on resolving a Hamas demand that the United States, Israel, Qatar and Egypt guarantee in writing a temporary ceasefire, aid deliveries and an Israeli troop withdrawal if indirect talks on implementing the second phase of the plan continued.

There was now a real chance of achieving agreement, according to an Israeli source cited by Reuters. That was in sharp contrast to past instances, when Israel said conditions attached by Hamas were unacceptable. On Friday his office said talks would continue next week and emphasised that gaps between the sides still remained. A U.S. official declined to confirm the Hamas decision, adding, “There’s real progress, but still a lot of work to do.”

The conflict has claimed the lives of more than 38,000 Palestinians, according to Gaza health officials, since Hamas attacked southern Israel on Oct. 7, killing 1,200 people and taking some 250 hostages. The new proposal ensures mediators would guarantee a temporary ceasefire, aid delivery and the withdrawal of Israeli troops as long as indirect talks continue. Efforts to secure a ceasefire and hostage release in Gaza have intensified with active shuttle diplomacy among Washington, Israel and Qatar. Washington is trying hard to secure a deal before the US presidential election in November.

(With agency inputs)

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