Hamas truce proposal calls for end of war; Biden calls it 'little over the top'

The 3-stage plan was in response to a proposal sent last week by mediators

ISRAEL-PALESTINIANS/HOSTAGES People hold banners as they take part in a protest demanding a hostage deal amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, in Tel Aviv, Israel | Reuters

Hamas has responded to the framework proposal for a new ceasefire in Gaza with a counter-proposal that includes an end to the war and a complete withdrawal of Israeli troops from the Palestinian enclave. The framework proposal was sent last week by Qatari and Egyptian mediators and backed by the United States and Israel.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said Israel’s Mossad spy agency had received Hamas’s response through Qatari mediators and was reviewing the proposal, reported The Times of Israel.  

Though the details of the original framework have not been officially published, reports claim Israel has agreed to an extended pause in the fighting in exchange for the staggered release of the remaining 136 Israeli hostages held by Hamas in Gaza.

 According to the proposal, reviewed by Reuters, Hamas envisions three phases lasting 45 days each. The proposal would see militants exchange of remaining Israeli hostages they captured on October 7 for Palestinian prisoners. All Israeli women hostages, males under 19, the elderly and the sick would be released during the first 45-day phase in exchange for the release of Palestinian women and children from Israeli jails. 

The remaining male hostages would be released during the second phase and the remains exchanged in the third phase. By the end of the third phase, Hamas would expect the sides to have reached an agreement on an end to the war. 

The militant group also wants the release of 1,500 prisoners, a third of whom it wanted to select from a list of Palestinians handed life sentences by Israel. The truce would also increase the flow of food and other aid to Gaza.

Though Israel has yet to respond to the proposal, local media reports quoting unnamed government sources said the country would not accept any conditions for ending the war. Netanyahu has repeatedly declared that the war will not end without a total victory over Hamas. "The meaning of Hamas’s answer is a refusal to deal," a senior Israeli official was quoted as saying by Channel 12 news. 

However, Qatar’s Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani said Doha was optimistic after receiving the terror group’s "positive response." 

Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden said Hamas’s reply was "a little over the top" while noting that negotiations were ongoing.  “There’s been a response from the opposition… from Hamas, but it seems to be a little over the top… There’s a continuing negotiation right now,” he added.


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