Biden announces that Israel has presented a “comprehensive new proposal” for a ceasefire in Gaza

(CNN) — US President Joe Biden announced this Friday that Israel has presented a “comprehensive new proposal” that provides a “road map” for a ceasefire in the war with Hamas in Gaza and the release of all hostages held by the terrorist group.

He said the proposal was conveyed to Hamas by Qatar and that the first phase would last six weeks and include a “complete ceasefire with the withdrawal of Israeli forces from all populated areas of Gaza” and “the release of many hostages, including women, the elderly and the wounded, in exchange for the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners.”

A diplomatic source familiar with the talks said on Tuesday that Israel presented new ideas on hostage and ceasefire talks to mediators this week, without elaborating on what the new ideas were.

Indirect talks between Israel and Hamas to secure the release of the hostages were suspended three weeks ago without a deal after the two sides could not agree on some conditions.

President Joe Biden waits to speak at a dinner for the Detroit chapter of the NAACP on May 19. Alex Brandon/AP

President Joe Biden on May 19. Alex Brandon/AP

On Thursday, Hamas said it had informed mediators that it was “ready to reach a comprehensive agreement” that includes a full hostage and prisoner exchange agreement if Israel ceases its war in Gaza.

A statement from the group said it had “shown flexibility and positivity in addressing the efforts of mediators in all previous rounds of indirect talks.” Hamas said Israel had used the months-long talks as a cover to continue its war in Gaza.

“Hamas and the Palestinian factions will not accept to be part of this policy of continued negotiations in the face of aggression, killing, siege, starvation and genocide of our people,” the Hamas statement said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly stressed that the war must continue until Hamas is completely destroyed.

The president, who returned to the White House early in the morning from his seaside home in Delaware, had for several days avoided commenting on the situation in Israel.

Earlier on Friday, Israel said its forces had entered the centre of the southern Gaza city of Rafah, which Biden had warned should not be the target of a major ground assault.

The White House called the images of the disaster “heartbreaking” but said the incident did not cross Biden’s red line to block some US weapons shipments to Israel.

Biden will speak as talks continue to secure the release of hostages in exchange for a temporary ceasefire in the war between Israel and Hamas. Israel recently issued a new proposal to secure the release of hostages.

The president told CNN’s Erin Burnett in an interview this month that he would limit some U.S. weapons to Israel if the country’s troops “go to Rafah.”

But he has been vague about how he would remedy that decision, leading to frustration and some degree of confusion about his stance. Many Democrats, along with foreign leaders whom the United States considers allies, say Israel’s action clearly crosses a red line: if not Biden’s, then their own and international law’s.

White House officials have sought to explain Biden’s stance this week, suggesting that his barometer for changing policy will be a “major ground invasion” of the city.

National security spokesman John Kirby has said that a major ground invasion would be obvious if it began: “Thousands of troops or multiple units of thousands of troops moving in coordinated maneuvers against a variety of targets on the ground, on a large scale. This is a major ground operation. Very simple”.

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Netanyahu says Gaza war will not end until Hamas is wiped out

Less than an hour after President Biden detailed an Israeli proposal that he said included a permanent ceasefire in the second phase of the agreement, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu insisted Israel would not end the war in Gaza until May defeats Hamas.

The Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement that “the war will not end until all its objectives are achieved.”

The Israeli Prime Minister’s Office said, “The Government of Israel is united in its desire to return our hostages as soon as possible and is working to achieve this goal.” “The Prime Minister therefore authorized the negotiating team to present a plan to achieve this objective, while stressing that the war will not end until all of its objectives are achieved, including the return of all our hostages and the elimination of the military and government forces of Hamas.

The Prime Minister’s Office stressed that the “precise contours” of Israel’s proposal allow it to “uphold these principles”.

Biden said Israel’s latest proposal would lead to a “permanent end to hostilities” in the second phase of the agreement, which will be negotiated during the first phase of the deal.

Notably, the latest Israeli proposal allows the ceasefire to continue beyond the first six weeks as long as negotiations continue.

It also allows Hamas to release the bodies of hostages as part of the first phase of the deal, something Israel had previously rejected.

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