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Saturday, June 1, 2024

Israel has offered new Gaza ceasefire plan – Biden

The three-part plan would include the return of all Israeli hostages from Gaza, according to the US president

Israel has proposed a new “enduring” ceasefire for Gaza in exchange for the release of all remaining hostages by Hamas, US President Joe Biden said on Friday, calling on the Palestinian militant group to agree to the offer.

Talks mediated by Egypt, Qatar and others have repeatedly reached dead ends, with both sides pinning blame on the other.

Read more: Israel reveals when it plans to end war in Gaza

During a news conference at the White House on Friday afternoon, Biden said Israel had put forward “a comprehensive new proposal” to end the war.

”Everyone who wants peace now must raise their voices and work to make it real. It’s time for this war to end,” Biden stated, calling on leaders on both sides not to “lose this moment.”

“Israel has made their proposal. Hamas says it wants a ceasefire. This deal is an opportunity to prove whether they really mean it,” he said.

According to Biden, the proposal involves three phases, with the first being a ceasefire of six weeks.

During this period, Israeli forces would withdraw from Gaza and hostages, including elderly and women, would be exchanged for hundreds of Palestinian prisoners who would be returned to the enclave. Some 600 trucks of aid would also be allowed into Gaza every day, Biden said.

Read more: Israel has ‘operational control’ over Gaza’s border with Egypt – IDF

The second phase would involve negotiations on a permanent end to the conflict, with the ceasefire continuing “as long as negotiations continue,” he said. The third phase would examine a massive reconstruction plan for Gaza.

Biden’s announcement comes as efforts to reach a ceasefire again ground to a halt earlier this month when Israel refused to commit to ending the war and began its offensive in the densely populated southern city of Rafah.

This week, Hamas reportedly told mediators that it would not negotiate during the ongoing aggression, but that it is ready for a “complete agreement,” involving a exchange of prisoners and hostages if Israel’s bombardments of the enclave stop.

The latest hostilities began after Hamas militants raided southern Israeli settlements on October 7 last year, leaving some 1,200 people dead and taking more than 200 hostages. Dozens of captives were subsequently released as part of prisoner exchanges during a weeklong truce in November.

More than 36,000 Palestinians have been killed in the more than seven months of fighting, according to the local Hamas-run authorities.