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Blinken Reviews Hamas’ Proposed Cease-fire Changes for Gaza Plan

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, amidst ongoing efforts to secure a cease-fire in Gaza, acknowledged Hamas’ proposal to modify a U.S.-backed peace plan. Blinken described some of Hamas’ changes as feasible but expressed frustration over lingering differences that have stalled progress.

The proposed deal endorsed globally but not fully embraced by Israel or Hamas, aims to end an eight-month conflict that has devastated Gaza, resulting in widespread casualties among Palestinians and Israeli hostages.

Despite previous moments of optimism, achieving consensus has proven elusive due to divergent demands. Blinken, speaking from Qatar, where mediation efforts are centered, emphasized the mediators’ commitment to finalizing an agreement. He placed responsibility on Hamas, accusing them of altering their demands throughout negotiations, which he suggested could jeopardize the prospects for a resolution.

The situation was further complicated by Hezbollah’s escalation, firing a substantial barrage of rockets into northern Israel in response to the killing of a senior commander. Hezbollah’s actions, aligned with Hamas as an Iran-backed group, underscored regional tensions and the potential for broader conflict escalation beyond Gaza’s borders.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Hamas, responding formally to the peace proposal, outlined amendments aimed at securing a permanent cease-fire and complete Israeli withdrawal from Gaza. These amendments reflect Hamas’ concerns about Israeli compliance with the terms of any agreement despite U.S. assurances of Israel’s acceptance.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, meanwhile, has conveyed varying messages regarding Israel’s stance, underscoring internal political pressures and the delicate balance of public opinion.

The proposed peace plan, structured in phases, includes a temporary cease-fire, exchange of hostages, and gradual withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza’s populated areas. However, significant hurdles remain, particularly concerning the future governance of Gaza and the timeline for a permanent cessation of hostilities.

Amidst these negotiations, humanitarian conditions in Gaza have deteriorated sharply, with a majority of the population displaced and access to aid restricted by ongoing conflict. The conflict’s toll includes tens of thousands of Palestinian casualties, significant damage to infrastructure, and heightened humanitarian concerns exacerbated by continued hostilities.

Efforts to broker a cease-fire in Gaza face formidable challenges, including divergent demands from Hamas and Israel, regional geopolitical dynamics, and humanitarian crises. The international community, led by mediators Qatar, Egypt, and the U.S., continues to pursue a resolution despite the complex and volatile landscape.

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