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Hamas Counteroffers 135-Day Truce Plan To Israel’s Ceasefire Proposal

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In response to a ceasefire proposal backed by Israel, Hamas has outlined a number of demands, including rebuilding Gaza and exchanging hostages for Palestinian prisoners.

After three 45-day truce phases, the armed group demands the complete withdrawal of Israeli forces and the end of the conflict.

Given that the Israeli prime minister has called for “total victory” in Gaza, the offer is probably going to be rejected. Whether a compromise can be struck to advance the process is the question.

The response from Hamas is a counteroffer to a ceasefire proposal that has not been made public and is supported by the US, Israel, and Qatar. Egypt is acting as a mediator in the ceasefire negotiations.

A draft of the Hamas document obtained by the British news agency Reuters states that it recommends:

  • A preliminary 45-day ceasefire that would see all Israeli women held captive, males under 19, the elderly, and the sick swapped for Palestinian women and children detained in Israeli prisons. Israeli forces would leave Gaza’s inhabited areas, and work on rebuilding the city’s hospitals and camps for refugees would start.
  • A second phase that would see Israeli forces withdraw from Gaza entirely and the remaining male Israeli hostages traded for Palestinian prisoners
  • A third and last stage in which bodies and remnants would be exchanged between the two sides

As part of the agreement, more food and other humanitarian supplies would be sent to Gaza. Hamas claims that by the time the 135-day ceasefire was reached, the war’s negotiations would have come to an end.

US President Joe Biden gave the proposal a muted reception, describing it as “a little over the top”. Although there is still “a lot of work to be done” to achieve a permanent ceasefire, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken emphasised the significance of doing so.

During a previous one-week ceasefire in November, 240 Palestinian prisoners were exchanged for the release of roughly 100 hostages.

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