Situation in Gaza, news and more

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

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US President Joe Biden looks on during a campaign rally at Girard College in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, May 29, 2024. (Credit: Reuters/Elizabeth Frantz)

US President Joe Biden announced on Friday that Israel has presented a “comprehensive new proposal” that provides a “roadmap” 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.

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.

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