Mediators call on Israel and Hamas to accept the ceasefire agreement

The countries mediating indirect negotiations between the parties – Qatar, the USA, and Egypt – urged Israel and Hamas yesterday, Saturday, to “finalize” the ceasefire agreement based on the plan presented by US President Joe Biden amid the war that is approaching eight months in the Gaza Strip.

Simultaneously, airstrikes from the air and the ground continued in Rafah (south), now the epicenter of the armed conflict sparked by the unprecedented raid by the military wing of Hamas in southern Israel on October 7.

“Qatar, the USA, and Egypt jointly call on Hamas and Israel to finalize the agreement based on the principles outlined by President Joe Biden,” the three states said in a joint statement, satisfying the requirements of “all sides.”

Three-phase plan

Friday night, Mr. Biden presented a “roadmap” compiled by Israel to achieve, in phases and under conditions, a permanent ceasefire, urging Hamas to accept it.

The first phase, he explained, will declare a complete ceasefire, and Israeli troops will withdraw from “populated areas of the Gaza Strip” for six weeks.

The suspension of hostilities will be accompanied by the release of certain Israeli hostages taken during Hamas’ attack on southern Israel on October 7, particularly women and the sick, in exchange for the release of Palestinian prisoners in Israel.

Negotiations will take place during the ceasefire, and, if successful and if Hamas “fulfills its commitments,” hostilities will definitively cease, and all hostages in the Gaza Strip, including soldiers, will return home, and Israeli troops will fully withdraw from the enclave.

A few hours after Joe Biden’s speech, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated his government’s “conditions” for a permanent ceasefire: the “destruction” of Hamas, the “release of all hostages,” and “guarantees that Gaza will no longer pose a threat” to Israeli security.

On the other hand, Hamas responded cautiously to Biden’s roadmap, reiterating its “non-negotiable” demands for a permanent ceasefire and the complete withdrawal of Israeli troops from the Gaza Strip before any agreement is reached — terms rejected by Israel.

Netanyahu finds himself caught in the crossfire. On one hand, his right-wing ministers, Itamar Ben Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich, threaten to leave the government if it proceeds with the agreement. On the other hand, thousands of Israelis took to the streets yesterday demanding the return of the hostages.

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