Home News A closer look at the obstacles to a ceasefire agreement

A closer look at the obstacles to a ceasefire agreement


President Biden raised hopes last week by approving a plan he said could lead to a “permanent cessation of hostilities.” He said the plan was proposed by Israel, but neither Israel nor Hamas has made clear whether they will accept or reject the proposal, and they still appear to be divided over fundamental issues.

Here’s what’s known about the ceasefire, key points still to be negotiated and the hurdles ahead:

Israel and Hamas reached a ceasefire in November that lasted a week. But the current proposal — put forward by Biden, senior U.S. administration officials and Israeli officials — is more ambitious. Major issues remain unresolved, including whether Hamas will continue to control the Gaza Strip.

proposal It will be carried out in three phases.

exist The first stageThese include Israel withdrawing its troops from the densely populated heart of Gaza during a six-week ceasefire and exchanging dozens of women and elderly hostages held by Hamas and its allies in Gaza for hundreds of Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails.

During this period, negotiations on a permanent ceasefire will continue, and if successful, the agreement will enter the second stage, with the full withdrawal of Israeli troops from the enclave. All hostages and more Palestinian prisoners will be released. In the third stage, Hamas will return the bodies of deceased hostages and begin a three- to five-year reconstruction period with the support of the United States, European countries and international institutions.

A major disagreement between Hamas and Israel over the plan is the length of the ceasefire and Hamas’ future role. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday he was willing to accept a six-week ceasefire, according to a person who attended his closed-door meeting with Israeli lawmakers. But he said publicly that Israel would fight until Hamas’s rule and military capabilities were destroyed.

The proposals appear to suggest Hamas will enter into second and third phases of negotiations with Israel, meaning it would retain a degree of control over Gaza, something Netanyahu has repeatedly said is a red line, and rules out a governing role for the Palestinian Authority, a fierce rival of Hamas that has limited governing powers in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

Israel’s prime minister faces pressure from the United States and other allies to end the war; Two far-right partners in the ruling coalition These people have threatened that their government will collapse if Israel agrees to a deal that ends the war without eliminating Hamas.

In a reflection of that pressure, Israel’s far-right Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir said on Wednesday that his party would Continue to disrupt Netanyahu’s coalition did not agree until he released details of the proposal.Two Israeli officials confirmed this week that Biden’s proposal was broadly in line with Israel’s latest ceasefire proposal in talks mediated by Qatar and Egypt.

Hamas said it had responded “positively” to the plan, but at a news conference on Tuesday, Hamas spokesman Osama Hamdan said Hamas had told mediators that the group could not approve a “serious, real agreement” that did not include a permanent ceasefire, a full withdrawal of Israeli troops and an exchange of Palestinian prisoners for hostages.

The same day, Hamas politburo member Sami Abu Zuhri accused Israel of not being serious about the deal and said the White House was putting pressure on Hamas despite “knowing the problem lies” with the Israelis.

Many Gaza residents say they are eager for the war to end, but analysts say the militant group Hamas has not responded to the wishes of Gaza civilians. Political experts say the group’s leaders, including its Most senior official Yahya Sinwar in the region may not be in a rush to end the conflict because he believes that once Hamas agrees to release the hostages, its leverage will be reduced.

A person familiar with the negotiations said Sinwar, the presumed mastermind of the October 7 attack, still needs to give his opinion on the proposal.

Adam Rasgon Contributed reporting.

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