Hamas Responds to Biden’s Ceasefire Proposal, Wants Firm Timeline for Permanent Ceasefire

Netanyahu has repeatedly stated that Israel would not agree to a permanent ceasefire and withdrawal from Gaza

Hamas has submitted to Egyptian and Qatari mediators its formal response to a Gaza ceasefire proposal that was recently outlined by President Biden. The Palestinian group is seeking stronger assurances on a permanent ceasefire and Israeli withdrawal from Gaza.

Under the initial proposal, the two sides would negotiate a permanent truce during the first phase and implement it in the second phase.

An official familiar with the talks told The Washington Post that Hamas’s response contained “amendments to the Israeli proposal, including a timeline for a permanent ceasefire and the complete withdrawal of Israeli troops from the Gaza Strip.”

Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad said in the joint statement that the response “prioritizes the interests of the Palestinian people and emphasizes the need for a complete halt to the ongoing aggression in Gaza.”

When President Biden outlined the ceasefire proposal on May 31, he said it would bring about a permanent end to Israel’s military operations in Gaza. But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu quickly rejected the idea of a permanent ceasefire and has repeatedly said the onslaught won’t end until Israel achieves its goals, which includes the destruction of Hamas.

Israeli officials previously told Axios that the language in the ceasefire proposal was vague enough for Israel and Hamas to enter the first phase of the deal, which involves a six-week truce and initial hostage and prisoner exchange, without Israel committing to a permanent ceasefire. But they said Netanyahu’s comments would likely sabotage the chances of an agreement since it would make Hamas seek stronger guarantees, which they have done.

Israeli officials are now accusing Hamas of rejecting the ceasefire proposal by asking for more assurances. “This evening, Israel received, via the mediator, the Hamas response. In its response, Hamas has rejected the proposal for a hostage release that was presented by President Biden,” an Israeli official told Reuters. “They have changed all of the main and most meaningful parameters.”

Hamas’s response came a day after the UN Security Council passed a resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza based on the proposal outlined by Biden. In response to the resolution, Hamas said it was ready to “enter into indirect negotiations on the implementation of these principles.”

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the news editor of Antiwar.com, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.