Sunday, July 7, 2024

Hamas says it dropped demand Israel vow upfront to end war, but wants mediators’ guarantees


Hamas has given initial approval for a US-backed proposal for a phased truce and hostage exchange deal in Gaza, dropping a key demand that Israel give an upfront commitment for a complete end to the war, a Hamas and an Egyptian official said Saturday.

At the same time, a key stumbling block appeared to be Hamas’s desire for “written guarantees” from mediators that Israel will continue to negotiate a permanent ceasefire deal once the first phase of a ceasefire goes into effect.

The Hamas representative told The Associated Press the group’s approval came after it received “verbal commitments and guarantees” from mediators that the war won’t be resumed and that negotiations will continue until a permanent ceasefire is reached.

“Now we want these guarantees on paper,” he said.

According to a Walla news report Friday, Mossad chief David Barnea informed Qatari mediators that Israel rejects Hamas’s demand for a written commitment from mediators that the negotiations regarding the second phase of the ceasefire can extend indefinitely if needed.

Axios reported that Washington is working to reach a compromise on the matter that will be acceptable to both sides, and that CIA director Bill Burns will be traveling to Doha next week to join the negotiations.

Cairo will also be hosting Israeli and US delegations to discuss “outstanding issues” in the potential agreement, according to Egypt’s state-affiliated Al Qahera News TV.

Citing a senior official, Al Qahera News reported that Egypt was conducting also talks with Hamas to conclude the ceasefire and hostages-for-prisoners swap deal.

Israel has voiced cautious optimism in recent days that Hamas’s position makes a deal more likely. A source in Israel’s negotiating team, speaking on condition of anonymity, said on Friday there was now a real chance of achieving an agreement. That was in sharp contrast to past instances in the nine-month-old war in Gaza, when Israel said conditions attached by Hamas were unacceptable. READ MORE