Home News Hamas, Israel under pressure to accept UN ceasefire

Hamas, Israel under pressure to accept UN ceasefire

13
0

The day after the UN Security Council resolution was issued Support for US-backed ceasefire proposal For the Gaza Strip, the focus on Tuesday turned to whether Israel and Hamas are willing to reach an agreement under growing international pressure.

Both sides have issued positive but vague statements about the ceasefire plan and accused each other of prolonging the war that has devastated Gaza. But neither side has indicated they will formally accept the proposal, which President Biden outlined in a speech last month and formed the basis of a 14-0 Security Council vote on Monday.

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, making his eighth visit to the region since Hamas-led militants attacked Israel on Oct. 7, said Tuesday that the fate of the ceasefire proposal rests in the hands of Hamas’ top leader in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar.

Senior Hamas official Hussam Badran countered that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was “the only obstacle to reaching a deal to end the war.”

An Israeli government official said in a statement that the proposed deal “enables Israel to achieve” its war goals, including destroying Hamas’ capabilities and releasing all hostages held by Hamas and its allies in Gaza. But the official, who spoke only on condition of anonymity, did not say whether Israel would accept the deal.

Netanyahu has repeatedly refused to take a firm stance on the plan. Last week, he called the idea of ​​a negotiated permanent ceasefire, which Hamas considers essential, “a nonstarter,” raising doubts. Far-right elements in his ruling coalition have threatened to withdraw their troops if Netanyahu accepts a ceasefire, which could topple him from power.

However, the Biden administration insists that not only does Israel support the proposal, but it is also Israel’s plan. Blinken said he received clear assurances from Netanyahu during their meeting on Monday that he supports the proposal, suggesting that the prime minister is saying one thing to the United States and another to his coalition partners.

Hamas and its ally, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, issued a statement late Tuesday saying they had sent Egypt and Qatar a response to the UN resolution but did not accept it. They stressed their willingness to negotiate and demanded Israel withdraw its troops – something they have repeatedly said before. Qatar and Egypt act as intermediaries between Israel and Hamas, and the two sides do not communicate directly.

An official with knowledge of the talks said the groups responded by calling for a revised ceasefire plan to include a clear timeline not only for a short-term ceasefire but also for a permanent one, as well as a clear timeline for a full Israeli withdrawal.

Later, an Israeli official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive negotiations, said the Israeli negotiating team had received a copy of Hamas’ response, describing it as a rejection of Biden’s proposal.

Speaking to reporters in Tel Aviv, Blinken placed the blame on Sinwar, who is believed to be hiding underground in Gaza. Blinken questioned whether Hamas would be willing to accept a deal that would allow more humanitarian aid to flow into Gaza in the best interests of the Palestinian people.

In addition, he said, Hamas might be “taking care of one person,” Mr. Sinwar, “who is probably safe right now, I don’t know, 10 floors underground somewhere in Gaza, while the people he claims to represent continue to suffer in the crossfire of his own making.”

Mr. Sinwar was the mastermind of the October 7 attacks, which Israeli officials said killed 1,200 people.

His calculations about the conflict became clearer on Tuesday with the release of letters he sent to negotiators, which he said were sent to other Hamas leaders in Doha, Qatar. Wall Street Journal Sinwar was quoted as saying, “We have the Israelis under control where we want them to be.”

Mr Sinwar also compared the civilian casualties to the hundreds of thousands who died in Algeria’s struggle for independence, calling them a “necessary sacrifice”.

The message confirms the view of some experts that Mr. Sinwar intends that more fighting — and the death of civilians in Gaza — will strengthen Hamas against Israel.

According to the Gaza Health Ministry, more than 36,000 people have died and about 80,000 have been injured in eight months, most of them women, children and the elderly. Israeli bombing has reduced much of Gaza to ruins, and there is a severe shortage of food and other supplies.

Blinken announced Tuesday at an emergency Palestinian relief conference in Jordan that the United States would provide $404 million in new aid to Gaza. But he said another $2 billion to $3 billion was needed and urged other countries to help as well.

The new aid pledges will provide “food, safe drinking water, health care, protection, education, shelter and psychosocial support,” the State Department said in a statement.

Earlier in the day, Blinken publicly called for increased pressure on Hamas to reach a deal, and singled out Sinwar. “It’s really just one person left now,” he said.

“My overarching message today to every government, multilateral institution, and humanitarian organization that wants to alleviate the suffering of the people of Gaza is this: Get Hamas to accept this deal,” Blinken said. “Push them publicly, urge them privately.”

The Security Council resolution called for an immediate ceasefire and negotiations for a permanent ceasefire, and said the temporary ceasefire would be extended if negotiations took longer than six weeks, appearing to open the door to a long-term ceasefire in the war, something some Israeli leaders have been reluctant to accept.

Blinken stressed that “the commitment in agreeing to this proposal is to seek a lasting ceasefire,” adding: “But this must be achieved through negotiations.”

In addition to an immediate ceasefire, the first phase of the three-phase agreement calls for massive aid to Gaza, the return of displaced Gazans to their homes, and the withdrawal of Israeli troops from densely populated areas of the region. The agreement also includes the release of hostages held there, including women, the elderly and the wounded, in exchange for more Palestinians held in Israeli prisons.

The second phase calls for a permanent ceasefire agreed by both sides, a full Israeli withdrawal from Gaza and the release of all remaining hostages. The third phase will include a multi-year reconstruction plan for Gaza and the return of the remains of deceased hostages.

Blinken said the Security Council vote showed Hamas would be isolated if it did not agree to the proposed deal. He said the resolution “makes it as clear as possible that this is what the world expects.”

Russia and the United States have clashed several times over Gaza ceasefire resolutions, with each country using its veto to block Security Council measures supported by the other. But on Monday, Russia abstained from voting, allowing the latest resolution to pass.

Adam Rasgon and Alan Boxman Contributed reporting.

Source link

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here