Blinken calls up Israel officials to discuss Gaza plan, says onus on Hamas to accept deal

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has spoken with Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant and Israeli Minister Benny Gantz about Israel’s proposal to achieve a full and complete ceasefire in Gaza, the State Department said.

Gantz is a minister in Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s war cabinet.

In separate calls on Sunday according to State Department Spokesperson Matthew Miller said Blinken commended Israel for the proposal and emphasized that the onus is on Hamas to accept the deal.

The US Secretary reiterated that, in addition to reuniting hostages with their loved ones, the proposal would advance Israel’s long-term security interests, including by unlocking the possibility of calm along Israel’s border with Lebanon that would allow Israelis to return to their home.

The top US diplomat commended Israel’s readiness to conclude a deal and reaffirmed the United States ironclad commitment to Israel’s security.

On Friday, US President Joe Biden announced in a speech that Israel has proposed a “comprehensive new proposal” that provides a roadmap to a ceasefire in the ongoing war with Hamas in Gaza and securing the release of all hostages held by the terrorist group.

According to Biden, the proposal, transmitted by Qatar to Hamas, outlines a “roadmap” towards a ceasefire. The initial phase, spanning six weeks, involves a “full and complete ceasefire with the withdrawal of Israeli forces from all populated areas of Gaza” and “release of a number of hostages including women, the elderly, the wounded in exchange for the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners.”

This announcement follows Israel’s presentation of new ideas regarding hostage and ceasefire negotiations earlier in the week, a diplomatic source familiar with the negotiations told CNN on Tuesday without divulging details regarding these new ideas.

Direct talks between Israel and Hamas regarding the release of hostages were paused three weeks ago due to disagreements over certain terms.
A statement from the group said that it had shown “flexibility and positivity in dealing with the efforts of the mediators throughout all previous rounds of indirect negotiations.” Israel, Hamas said, had used the months of ongoing talks as a cover to continue its war in Gaza.

White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said on Sunday, the US expects Israel to stick to the hostage deal proposal it made last week and accept the offer if Hamas consents as well.

“We have every expectation that if Hamas agrees to the proposal — as was transmitted to them, an Israeli proposal — that Israel would say ‘Yes,’” Kirby said in an interview on ABC News.

According to the Politico, the controversy began on Wednesday, when Israel’s war cabinet made an offer for a ceasefire to Hamas, against the wishes of Netanyahu. Hamas rejected the bid on Thursday, but seemed to reconsider when Biden urged them to on Friday, saying they viewed the offer “positively.”
The three-part cease-fire plan is backed by the European Commission, the UK, Germany, France, Egypt, Qatar and other Arab governments, the US publication detailed. (ANI)

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