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Middle East

“Breakthrough” is what the US calls the new Hamas plan for a ceasefire in Gaza

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  • The US has called the new Hamas ceasefire proposal a "breakthrough," sparking cautious optimism.
  • Negotiations face challenges, particularly concerning the conditions for a permanent ceasefire and the release of hostages.
  • International mediators, including the US, Egypt, and Qatar, are hopeful that the talks in Doha will lead to a lasting peace agreement.

The recent ceasefire proposal by Hamas for Gaza has been hailed as a significant breakthrough by the United States, marking a potential turning point in the long-standing conflict between Israel and Hamas. This development has sparked cautious optimism among international mediators and stakeholders, who are hopeful that this could pave the way for a lasting peace agreement.

Key Developments and Reactions

A senior US official described the latest Hamas proposal as a "breakthrough," noting that while substantial work remains, the progress made is promising. The proposal was received by the Biden administration a few days prior to a critical 30-minute phone call between US President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. This conversation was characterized as thorough, optimistic, and realistic about the tasks required to finalize the deal and commence its implementation.

Netanyahu convened his security council to review the Hamas proposal and decided to send a negotiation team to Doha, Qatar, for discussions with US, Egyptian, and Qatari mediators. The delegation is headed by David Barnea, the chief of Mossad, Israel's intelligence agency.

Challenges and Optimism

Despite the positive reception of the proposal, challenges remain. The negotiations have faced difficulties transitioning from the initial phase to subsequent stages, particularly concerning the conditions for a permanent ceasefire and the release of all hostages. A senior US official highlighted that while progress had been made, there was still substantial work ahead to finalize the agreement.

The previous Hamas response had negotiable and non-negotiable elements, but the White House's reaction to the latest response was more positive. The ongoing negotiations aim to address the remaining implementation issues and pave the way for a lasting ceasefire and the reconstruction of Gaza.

International Mediation and Future Prospects

The White House anticipated that the talks in Doha might begin as early as Friday. The Hamas proposal aligns with the peace plan outlined by Biden on May 31, which has been accepted by Israel and backed by the UN Security Council. This plan breaks down the cessation of hostilities and the exchange of captives into three stages, a framework that has been a point of contention between the parties involved.

Hamas has shown a willingness to negotiate, with positive feedback on the recent proposals. However, concerns persist about the differences in interpreting certain clauses of the agreement. Israel aims to maintain flexibility in case of future conflicts, while Hamas seeks assurances against further hostilities.

Regional Implications and Broader Context

The conflict has had devastating effects on both sides. Since the war broke out, Israel's attacks in Gaza have killed a total of 37,952 civilians, mostly children, and wounded an additional 87,266 people. Hamas's October 7, 2023, assault on Israel killed at least 1,139 people, mostly civilians, and seized 251 captives.

The ongoing clashes between Hezbollah and Israeli forces have further complicated the situation, with extensive fires on both sides of the border and fears of an all-out war between Hezbollah and Israel. Efforts for a ceasefire in Gaza, including a possible hostage release deal, are being explored by mediators involving Egypt, Qatar, and the United States.

The new Hamas ceasefire proposal represents a significant step towards ending the prolonged conflict in Gaza. While challenges remain, the positive reception of the proposal by the US and Israel's willingness to engage in negotiations offer a glimmer of hope for a lasting peace agreement. The international community remains cautiously optimistic as talks continue, with the potential for a breakthrough that could bring much-needed relief to the people of Gaza and Israel.

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