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Gaza peace plan is ‘ball in Hamas’ court, says White House

by Reporter - Jun 04 216 Views 0 Comment

The White House maintained that the decision to accept a new Gaza peace proposal rested with Hamas, as Benjamin Netanyahu's governing coalition in Israel faced internal unrest, leading to conflicting signals.


On Monday, John Kirby, the US national security spokesperson, emphasized that the proposal in question was attributed to Israel, even though it was presented by Joe Biden on Friday, during the Jewish Sabbath, and Netanyahu seemed to question it.

The Israeli prime minister emphasized that any agreement lacking the complete dismantling of Hamas's military and governing capabilities would be deemed unacceptable.


In a statement to the Knesset on Monday, the Israeli prime minister refuted the claims that a ceasefire had been agreed upon without meeting their conditions.


"There have been conflicting statements from Israel," Kirby noted, highlighting that Israel's foreign minister, Israel Katz, had confirmed it as an Israeli proposal. According to Biden, the plan he outlined on Friday accurately reflects the proposal that was worked on with the Israelis.


Hamas has received the proposal. The item was received on Thursday night. Kirby stated that an official response from them is still pending.

It is strongly recommended that they consider accepting the deal. According to the source, this development fulfills the long-awaited desire for a ceasefire and, in the future, could lead to the gradual withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza.

"The responsibility now lies with Hamas," he stated.


According to US officials, the proposal has changed discussions among US, Israel, and Qatar negotiators over the past few weeks. Netanyahu received only a few hours' notice on Friday regarding Biden's intention to make it public.


According to officials, Biden's speech coincided with the closure of Israeli government offices for the Sabbath and conservative politicians' disconnection from the internet and other communications. They claim that this timing was not intentional but rather a result of the four-and-a-half-page plan being delivered to Hamas on Thursday.


The message was sent to the Hamas political leadership in Qatar. Still, officials have indicated that it may take some time for it to reach Yahya Sinwar, the group's leader in Gaza, and for him to respond.


The initial stage of the proposal resembles a previous plan that did not succeed in gaining consensus. During six weeks, Hamas announced its plan to release several hostages, explicitly targeting the elderly, sick, wounded, and female individuals.


In response, Israel has agreed to reciprocate by freeing a larger group of Palestinian detainees. In the hypothetical scenario, a potential ceasefire could potentially lead to Israeli forces withdrawing from heavily populated regions, thereby enabling Palestinians to return to their remaining homes.

Additionally, a substantial amount of humanitarian aid, consisting of 600 trucks per day, could potentially be delivered to the coastal strip.


Simultaneously, discussions would be held to determine the path towards a subsequent, more extensive stage. This stage would encompass the liberation of all remaining hostages and the release of additional Palestinian prisoners, a complete withdrawal of Israeli troops, and a lasting end to hostilities. Another essential aspect to consider is the reconstruction and governance in Gaza.


The new proposal includes an innovative clause that ensures the initial six-week ceasefire will remain in effect as long as negotiations for a second phase are ongoing. This eliminates the possibility of a looming deadline that could lead to a resumption of combat.


The differences between Biden and Netanyahu's versions are most pronounced during the transition from the first to the second phase.

In the plan outlined by the US president, it was proposed that Hamas and Israel would negotiate for the second phase. However, the Israeli prime minister maintained that Hamas needed to be dealt with decisively before a lasting ceasefire could be achieved.


In a recent statement, Biden expressed his belief that Hamas is currently unable to carry out another attack similar to the devastating one on southern Israel in October.

This attack resulted in the loss of 1,200 lives and sparked the ongoing conflict in Gaza. Biden's remarks seemed to imply that Israel had accomplished its military goals. However, Netanyahu countered by suggesting that a more extensive and definitive action was necessary to eradicate the extremist group.


In a statement on Monday evening, Rear Adm Daniel Hagari, a spokesperson for the Israel Defence Forces (IDF), expressed confidence in the military's ability to safeguard Israel's security in any potential Gaza truce and hostage release agreement authorised by the government.


According to the IDF, four additional Israeli hostages who Hamas was holding have tragically passed away while in captivity.

The Islamist group is currently holding the bodies of these individuals. Four hostages, identified as Haim Perry, Yoram Metzger, Amiram Cooper, and Nadav Popplewell, were tragically found deceased. These individuals had previously been seen alive in hostage videos shared by Hamas.

There are still approximately 120 hostages whose whereabouts remain unknown, with an estimated 40 casualties reported during the conflict.


In a recent cabinet meeting, Netanyahu emphasized Israel's primary objective in Gaza: the dismantling of Hamas. Furthermore, he highlighted that the plan's initial phase, as Biden outlined last Friday, could be executed independently, without necessitating a resolution to the ongoing conflict.


This is not a recent addition. I am not including this information due to the pressure I face within the coalition. Netanyahu stated in a video message that the decision was reached unanimously in the war cabinet.


US officials have acknowledged that one motivation behind Biden's announcement of the peace proposal was to ensure that the Israeli war cabinet would recognise its terms and take ownership of the plan. It was clear that Netanyahu hesitated to endorse something that could potentially destabilize his government publicly.


In recent days, Netanyahu has faced mounting pressure from the conservative faction within his government.

The national security minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir, has accused the prime minister of attempting to downplay the peace deal and reiterated his warning to resign from the government if Israel were to enter into an agreement that does not explicitly call for the complete dismantling of Hamas as both a military and political entity.


In a surprising turn, the finance minister, Bezalel Smotrich, has voiced his intention to step down in response to the deal. According to Smotrich, Israel's sole recourse is to escalate military measures against Hamas.


"The proposal mentioned by President Biden has been deemed dangerous by Smotrich, who argues that it was made without authority, against the law, and is not binding for the government and state of Israel," Smotrich stated.


According to a report by Israel's Kan Radio, the prime minister has reportedly assured his political partners that the war will not end. He is sceptical about the likelihood of a deal, stating that the chances are meagre.

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