Gaza War: Hamas Denies Blinken Charges for Elusive Ceasefire

image caption, Mediators tabled the latest ceasefire proposal for more than two weeks

  • author, Rafi Berg
  • stock, BBC News

Hamas pushed back after being criticized by US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken for not yet accepting a ceasefire proposal, saying it was “positive” for talks.

The group said it had “favorably dealt with the latest proposal and all proposals to reach a ceasefire agreement”.

In contrast, “while Blinken continues to talk about ‘Israel’s’ approval of the latest project, we have not heard any official Israeli vocal approval”.

Mr. Blinken has repeatedly said that Israel accepted the cease-fire proposal outlined by President Biden on May 31. Although the Israeli plan was the basis for Mr Biden’s announcement, the Israeli government has not officially said so.

Speaking in Qatar on Wednesday, Mr Blinken expressed frustration with Hamas’s response to the Israeli cease-fire proposal presented by the group on Tuesday.

Details of the response were not made public, although Mr Blinken said Hamas had proposed changes, some of which he said were unenforceable.

“At some point in the negotiation — and it’s been a long back and forth — you get to a point where one side keeps changing their demands, including making demands and insisting on changes to what’s already been agreed upon. You have to question whether or not they’re acting in good faith.

On the other hand, Hamas said it had clearly expressed its positive position on “what was included in US President Joe Biden’s speech” and “what was included” in the resolution. It also said it had confirmed it was “ready to cooperate” with mediators involved in the ceasefire talks.

Mr Blinken said the prime minister had reaffirmed his commitment to the ceasefire proposal after a meeting with Mr Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Monday.

Mr Netanyahu has not publicly endorsed the plan, although the war cabinet he chairs has approved a plan presented to Hamas on May 27. That proposal – which is longer than the summary provided by Mr Biden – has not been made public and it is unclear whether it differs from what the president said in his televised statement late last month.

One of the main sticking points between the two sides appears to be their vision of ending the war. Reports suggest that Hamas will first insist on a written guarantee that Israel will end the war before signing the plan. Mr Netanyahu said the war would not end until Hamas’ “governance and military capabilities” were destroyed and the hostages returned.

The war began after Hamas attacked Israel on October 7, killing about 1,200 people and taking 251 hostages in Gaza. More than 37,000 people have been killed in Israeli strikes since then, according to the Hamas-run health ministry.

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