Israel accepts Biden’s Gaza ceasefire proposal but believes it needs ‘much more work’, says Netanyahu aide

Israel accepts Biden’s Gaza ceasefire proposal but believes it needs ‘much more work’, says Netanyahu aide
  • PublishedJune 3, 2024

Israel has accepted US President Joe Biden’s Gaza ceasefire proposal but believes the framework deal is “in need of much more work”, an aide to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says.

In an interview with Britain’s Sunday Times, Ophir Falk, chief foreign policy advisor to Mr Netanyahu, said the framework deal presented by Mr Biden was “a deal we agreed to — it’s not a good deal but we dearly want the hostages released, all of them”.

“There are a lot of details to be worked out,” said Mr Falk, adding that Israeli conditions, including “the release of the hostages and the destruction of Hamas as a genocidal terrorist organisation” had not changed.

Mr Biden outlined the three-phase deal on Friday, saying Hamas was “no longer capable” of carrying out another attack on Israel.

The first phase entails a truce and the return of some hostages held by Hamas, including women, the injured and the elderly.

The second phase would see “the cessation of hostilities permanently” in exchange for all remaining living hostages held by Hamas.

The third phase would see the remains of dead hostages returned to Israel.

Mr Biden has hailed several ceasefire proposals over the past several months, each with similar frameworks to the one he outlined on Friday, all of which collapsed.

The primary sticking point has been Israel’s insistence that it would discuss only temporary pauses to fighting until Hamas is destroyed.

Hamas shows no sign of stepping aside

Hamas says it will free hostages only under a path to a permanent end to the war.

In his speech, Mr Biden said his latest proposal would create “a better ‘day after’ in Gaza without Hamas in power”. 

He did not elaborate on how this would be achieved, and acknowledged that “there are a number of details to negotiate to move from phase one to phase two”.

Mr Falk reiterated Mr Netanyahu’s position that “there will not be a permanent ceasefire until all our objectives are met”.

Mr Netanyahu is under pressure to keep his coalition government intact. Two far-right partners have threatened to resign in protest at any deal that they think will spare Hamas. Ex-general Benny Gantz, a centrist member of Mr Netanyahu’s war cabinet, wants the deal considered.

Hamas has provisionally welcomed the Biden initiative, though a senior official from the group, Sami Abu Zuhri, said on Sunday that “Hamas is too big to be bypassed or sidelined by Netanyahu or Biden”.

A day earlier, another Hamas official, Osama Hamdan, told Al Jazeera that “Biden’s speech included positive ideas, but we want this to materialise within the framework of a comprehensive agreement that meets our demands”.

Hamas wants a guaranteed end to the Gaza offensive, withdrawal of all invading forces, free movement for Palestinians and reconstruction aid.

Israeli officials have rejected that as an effective return to the situation in place before October 7, when Hamas fighters precipitated the war by storming across the border fence into Israel, killing 1,200 people and taking more than 250 hostages, according to Israeli tallies.

In the ensuing Israeli assault that has laid waste to much of the impoverished and besieged coastal enclave, more than 36,000 Palestinians have been killed, Gaza medical officials say. 

Israel says 290 of its troops have died in the fighting.


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