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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Blinken responds to Hamas ceasefire conditions

The US Secretary of State has expressed frustration with the Palestinian militants amid ongoing truce negotiations with Israel

The latest changes proposed by Hamas to a Washington-backed ceasefire agreement between the Palestinian militants and Israel are not “workable,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced on Wednesday.

The US had previously suggested a three-phase plan to establish an “enduring” ceasefire in Gaza, which supposedly includes the release of all hostages and the withdrawal of Israeli forces from the enclave. While the specific details have not been made public, late last month, the US announced that West Jerusalem had agreed to the deal, even though Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has yet to publicly endorse it.

Read more: Both Israel and Hamas committed war crimes – UN

On Tuesday, however, Hamas rejected the plan in its current form and proposed a number of changes, aiming to “put the priority on the interests of the Palestinian people” and stop the ongoing aggression against Gaza through a complete withdrawal of Israeli forces from the enclave.

Speaking during a press conference in Doha alongside Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani, Blinken stated that some of the changes proposed by the Palestinian group are “workable” while some “are not.”

“Hamas could have answered with a single word: Yes, Blinken said, claiming that the group’s hesitance to sign the deal was to blame for the ongoing hostilities in Gaza.

The diplomat went on to accuse Hamas of intentionally continuing to “change its demands” and insisting on altering things “it already accepted,” suggesting that the Palestinian group was not acting in “good faith.”

In response to Blinken’s comments, Hamas official Taher Al-Nunu accused the Secretary of State of bias and double standards while trying to portray the group as the party obstructing the deal. Al-Nunu told Al Jazeera’s TV news network that it was Israel that first introduced amendments to the original proposal and that Hamas’ latest changes are effectively counter-revisions.

Read more: Israel, Hamas disagree on US-backed ceasefire – media

At the same time, however, Al-Nunu stated that Hamas could be flexible about the demands Blinken has labeled as unworkable and finds it “normal” for negotiating parties to accept or reject amendments to a proposal.

Qatar’s Mohammed has also suggested that the current situation is nothing new in terms of how negotiations are carried out, stating that “there is always space and ‘give and take’” and that there is never an absolute yes-or-no response in such dealings.

So far, more than 37,000 Palestinians have been killed during Israel’s Gaza offensive, which was sparked by a Hamas cross-border attack on October 7, in which the group killed 1,200 people and took more than 200 hostages.