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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken Urges End to Stalling on Gaza Ceasefire and Hostage Release Negotiations

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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has made strong statements to Hamas, emphasizing the need to stop delaying negotiations for a ceasefire in Gaza and the release of hostages. Speaking in Doha, Blinken revealed that Hamas had made several changes to a US-backed ceasefire proposal, some of which were acceptable while others were not. Despite this, Blinken expressed determination to work with mediators from Qatar and Egypt to finalize the deal.

Hamas signalled its willingness to engage positively in the process but insisted on Israel agreeing to a permanent ceasefire and full withdrawal from Gaza. However, the Israeli government did not respond directly, though an anonymous official described Hamas’ response as a rejection. While Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has not publicly endorsed the proposal, Blinken mentioned that Netanyahu had reaffirmed his commitment during a meeting in Jerusalem.

The UN Security Council also backed the proposal, adding to the diplomatic pressure exerted by the United States. During his visit to Qatar, Blinken seemed visibly frustrated as he discussed the changes requested by Hamas to the ceasefire proposal. He emphasized that the world was standing behind the deal, which Israel had accepted, and criticized Hamas for proposing additional changes after a significant delay.

Although Hamas did not specify the changes they were seeking, they reiterated their demand for a complete halt to the aggression in Gaza and the full withdrawal of Israeli forces. A member of Hamas’s political bureau described their response as responsible, serious, and positive, offering a pathway to reach an agreement.

Despite the challenges, Blinken expressed optimism about bridging the gaps, emphasizing that Hamas ultimately needed to make a decision. He stressed the need for concessions from both Hamas and Israel while underlining the importance of developing plans for post-conflict recovery in Gaza.

The Israeli military launched the military campaign in Gaza in response to an attack on southern Israel, leading to casualties and hostages. The proposed ceasefire plan involves three phases, including a temporary ceasefire, phased release of hostages, withdrawal of Israeli forces, and a comprehensive reconstruction plan for Gaza. However, Israeli leadership remains sceptical, with some ministers pressuring Netanyahu to disregard the US-backed proposal.

Hence, the negotiations for a Gaza ceasefire and hostage release remain complex, with the involvement of various stakeholders and diplomatic efforts to bridge the gaps between the parties involved.

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