Israel to Receive Hamas’ “Positive” Response to Egyptian Truce Deal for Gaza
ON 02/07/2024 AT 01 : 19 AM
The extended truce plan proposed by Egypt and brokered by Qatar for a ceasefire in Gaza which could last as much as six weeks has made it through a critical first hurdle.
“[We have studied the] comprehensive ceasefire deal … with a positive spirit,” Hamas said in a public written statement issued yesterday about their response.
Hamas said it would work “to ensure a comprehensive and complete cease-fire, ending the aggression against our people.”
It is the first potential ray of hope for a ceasefire which would last more than just a handful of days since the October 7 phase of the multi-decades conflict between fascist Israel and the Palestinian people in Gaza as well as the West Bank.
According to representatives from Qatar and Egypt, Hamas’ detailed response to the proposal emphasized the importance of the final version of the truce including a plan for a permanent ceasefire, a means of halting all fighting of any kind against the Palestinian people and coordinating a full prisoner exchange between both sides of the conflict. Hamas also called for a detailed plan to ensure humanitarian relief flows more rapidly into Gaza, setting up of shelters for peoples whose homes have been destroyed in the fighting, and the establishment of funding and planning for a major reconstruction of Gaza.
"While we salute our people and their legendary resilience and brave resistance, especially in the Gaza Strip, we affirm that we, in Hamas movement, along with all national forces and factions, are committed to defending our people, on the path to ending the occupation and achieving their legitimate national rights in their land and sanctities," Hamas’ leadership wrote in their formal public statement about the proposals provided to them.
Hamas emphasized it considered the proposal offered by Egypt and Qatar as a positive step forward.
The truce deal they were responding to was first laid out by Egypt then discussed in detail during a multi-day negotiations discussion in Paris at the end of last month and early into this week with representatives of Egypt, Israel, Qatar, and the United States involved. Hamas’ interests handled by proxy since their leadership could not attend in Paris for security reasons, they said.
The truce plan has three phases. Phase 1 is principally about the exchange of first groups of hostages and prisoners from each side, along with boosting the amount and process for delivering humanitarian aid in Gaza. Phase 2 is more complex, with more prisoner exchanges, this time emphasizing the release of some of Israel’s female soldiers who have been held captive by Hamas, as well as the rebuilding or repair of certain critical utility infrastructure in Gaza. Phase 3 involves Hamas this time turning over the dead bodies of Israeli soldiers it is retaining, plus an even larger bilateral prisoner exchange.
Though not embedded in the proposal as written, Hamas asked the negotiators to include the clearly stated condition that “military operations on both sides will stop” in full during all three stages.
Egypt issued its own statement regarding the negotiations not long after Hamas’ comments were made public.
"We will discuss all the details of the proposed framework with the concerned parties to reach an agreement on the final formula as soon as possible," said State Information Service head Diaa Rashwan.
"Egypt will continue to exert its utmost efforts in order to reach a ceasefire agreement in the war-ravaged Gaza Strip soon," he continued.
Sources association with Egypt’s government indicated discussions with Hamas suggested that—at least from their side—the ceasefire might be able to go into effect sometime in April. A date shortly after the Muslim Eid al-Fitr has been discussed as a goal, they said.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited deal broker Qatar’s Prime Minister, Sheikh Mohammed Al Thani, in Doha, the country’s capital city, yesterday to discuss progress on the ceasefire negotiations and the status of humanitarian aid flow into Gaza.
After those discussions were concluded, Blinken put his own positive spin on the state of the negotiations while cautioning that it would still be some time before anything formal could be announced.
“There’s still a lot of work to be done. But we continue to believe that an agreement is possible and indeed essential, and we will continue to work relentlessly to achieve it,” he said during a press briefing during his stopover in Qatar.
Sheikh Al Thani hinted at the same issue, that there was “still a lot of work to be done” when he talked to the press after the meeting with Blinken. He spoke of challenges that needed to be addressed between Hamas and Israel, while still believing the differing requirements of each party could be bridged as the negotiations continue.
“We are hoping to see it yielding and yielding very soon,” he said.
Back in the United States, dementia-ridden Joe Biden sounded less optimistic than either Blinken or Al-Thani about the state of the negotiations, but it wasn't clear if he understood the information.
“There is some movement,” Biden said. “There’s been a response from Hamas, but it seems to be a little over the top, and we’re not sure where it is.”
Blinken is visiting Israel on February 7 to discuss the potential truce with war criminals Netanyahu, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, President Isaac Herzog, and Herzl Halevy, head of the Israeli Defense Forces. He is also expected to push Netanyahu regarding the possibility of establishing a separate Palestinian state, something Joe Biden is now publicly promoting but which no one in the Israeli Prime Minister’s Cabinet wishes to proceed with.
Blinken will also be talking with Netanyahu what his country needs to do to reawaken a plan to reestablish diplomatic ties between Saudi Arabia and Israel. The White House is said to be offering Saudi Arabia concessions on military equipment and munitions it wishes to acquire from the United States as part of that plan. For Israel it would provide a strong link to the wealthiest Arab dictatorship, with the potential for trade deals to benefit Israel at a time when it needs more of those badly. The one big catch is that the Saudi government is holding fast for its demand that Palestine must have its own independent state, without any presence of Israel as an occupying force, as a precondition for any negotiations between Riyadh and Jerusalem to proceed on this.
The Secretary of State is also planning to travel to Ramallah during the same visit. There he will meet with Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian National Authority, who has no real authority.
Blinken is also scheduled for a stopover to meet with senior officials in Saudi Arabia as part of this quick Middle East diplomatic tour.