Where things stand on an Israel-Hamas cease-fire deal as Hamas responds to latest proposal

Negotiators from the United States, Qatar and Egypt have been working to mediate an agreement between Israel and Hamas that would see an end to the war that has killed tens of thousands of people in the Gaza Strip. So far, a deal has been elusive.

Here’s how things have developed over the last week:

Biden announces Israeli proposal to end the Gaza war

Late last month, President Biden announced what he called an Israeli proposal to end the war.

He said the plan consisted of three phases, the first of which would include a cessation of hostilities. He said Israeli forces would pull out of population centers in Gaza, some Israeli hostages and hundreds of Palestinian prisoners would be exchanged, Palestinian civilians would return to some parts of Gaza, including the north, and 600 trucks of humanitarian aid would be provided per day.

Israeli military mobility on the northern border of Gaza
Tanks, armored personnel carriers, trucks and military jeeps belonging to the Israeli army drive along on the northern border of the Gaza Strip, May 29, 2024.

Mostafa Alkharouf/Anadolu/Getty

In the second phase, Israel and Hamas would negotiate a permanent end to the war, and “the cease-fire will still continue as long as negotiations continue,” Mr. Biden said. Israel would withdraw from Gaza and the remaining hostages would be released.

The third phase would see the bodies of hostages who had been killed be returned to Israel, and the reconstruction of Gaza.

Mr. Biden said the plan had been relayed to Hamas by Qatar.

“I know there are those in Israel who will not agree with this plan and will call for the war to continue indefinitely. Some are even in the government coalition. They’ve made it clear: They want to occupy Gaza. They want to keep fighting for years and hostages are not a priority for them. Well, I’ve urged leadership in Israel to stand behind this deal, despite whatever pressure comes,” Mr. Biden said.

Israel-Hamas cease-fire proposal faces opposition from right-wing Israeli officials


“As someone who’s had a lifelong commitment to Israel, as the only American president who has ever gone to Israel at a time of war, as someone who just sent the U.S. forces to directly defend Israel when it was attacked by Iran, I ask you to take a step back, think what will happen if this moment is lost,” Mr. Biden said. “We can’t lose this moment.”

Israeli leaders appear to show wavering support for Biden’s statements

After Mr. Biden’s announcement, the office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said it backed the plan, according to the Reuters news agency. Israeli media soon reported, however, that Netanyahu had said there were gaps between what Mr. Biden laid out and Israel’s stance.

“The proposal that Biden presented is incomplete,” Netanyahu told Israeli lawmakers during a closed-door meeting of the Israeli parliament’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, according to the Times of Israel newspaper.

Netanyahu told his country’s lawmakers that Israel would not end the war in Gaza until it achieved its three primary objectives: Destroying Hamas’ military and civil governance capabilities, securing the release of all the hostages, and ensuring that there is no ongoing threat to Israel from Gaza, the Times of Israel reported.

At least 7 killed in an armed attack in Jewish settlement at East Jerusalem
A Jan. 27, 2023 file photo shows Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) and Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir (L) at the scene of an attack in a Jewish settlement in East Jerusalem that left seven people dead.

Mostafa Alkharouf/Anadolu Agency/Getty

Far-right, ultra-nationalist members of Netanyahu’s cabinet, Itamar Ben-Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich, accused Netanyahu of trying to “whitewash” a deal with Hamas and threatened to pull out of the coalition government with him, which would effectively end Netanyahu’s long tenure as Israel’s leader.

“The dangerous proposal that President Biden spoke of was made by the war cabinet without authority and against the law, and it is not binding for the government of Israel,” Smotrich said.

Hamas says written Israeli proposal submitted to them different from “what Biden stated”

On Thursday, Hamas released a statement saying that, given Mr. Biden’s statement and statements from Israeli officials, “the enemy’s position is unclear.”

Hamas said the written proposal it received “was devoid of the positive foundations mentioned in Biden’s statements, and that there is a difference between what is in the paper and what Biden stated, which caused much confusion and controversy, whether what Biden talked about is his personal interpretation of the paper or oral agreements with Israeli parties or otherwise.”

Hamas said the written proposal it received did not guarantee one of its key conditions — a permanent cease-fire — or link the three stages of the plan.

“On the contrary, it destroyed the bridges that transfer the agreement from one stage to another in order to disrupt the unity of the agreement with all its stages and reduce it to one stage in which the aggression stops temporarily and its [Israel’s] forces remain on the land of the Gaza Strip, and the occupation gets in return the segment of the prisoners it cares about and then resumes the war of annihilation against our people,” the statement said.

Hamas said it was committed “to its positive stance towards Biden’s statements,” and “that Biden must ensure that the occupation government agrees to them and that they are reflected in the text of the agreement.”

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