Despite “truce proposals” in Gaza, the chances of reaching an agreement are “far-fetched”

As the number of casualties in the war between Israel and Hamas rises and global pressure aims to stop the escalation of violence, international mediators are putting forward various proposals for a new ceasefire.

However, both sides, at least publicly, have put forward conditions that appear intractable, the newspaper reported.The New York Times“which indicated that this led diplomats to believe that reaching a permanent truce agreement “is still a long way off,”

In late November, Israel and Hamas reached a ceasefire agreement that lasted for a week, after which the movement, classified as a terrorist group in a number of countries, released more than 100 hostages it had kidnapped during its attack on Israel on October 7.

In return, Israel released approximately 240 Palestinian prisoners and allowed more humanitarian aid to enter Gaza, before the truce ended after one week, without the success of the efforts of the mediators who hoped it would be a foundation upon which to build an end to the fighting.

The New York Times explained that since then, Israeli forces have deepened the war, which military officials say may continue “for many more months” as they seek to achieve their goal of eliminating Hamas.

As the fighting continues, fears grow that the conflict may expand, as Israel exchanges attacks across its northern border with Lebanese Hezbollah, Houthi militants based in Yemen launch strikes against cargo ships in the Red Sea, while US forces bomb what they describe as Iranian targets in Iraq and Syria.

Proposals to stop the violence

With more than 20,000 Palestinians killed in Gaza since the start of the Israeli military campaign, according to Gaza health officials, mediators between the two sides continue to search for a way to stop the violence.

The Egyptian government presented a proposal calling for the exchange of more hostages and prisoners as a step towards a permanent ceasefire, according to three diplomats in the region who insisted on anonymity due to the sensitivity of the talks.

But diplomats warned that neither Israel nor Hamas appeared close to agreeing to such a proposal.

Reuters quoted two security sources as saying that Cairo proposes a ceasefire in several stages, with the initial stage being temporary for a week or two, and that the temporary ceasefire could be renewed.

The Egyptian proposal stipulates that Hamas and Islamic Jihad would give up power in the Gaza Strip in exchange for a permanent ceasefire.
According to Palestinian officials, they said that the ceasefire will be in three stages. During the first ten days of a humanitarian truce, Hamas will release all the women, children and elderly people detained by it.

In return, Israel releases an agreed-upon number of Palestinian prisoners of the same categories, stops all combat operations, withdraws tanks from the Gaza Strip, and allows the delivery of food and medical aid, fuel and cooking gas.
It also allows the return of residents to the northern Gaza Strip.

Hamas and Islamic Jihad insist that a hostage exchange deal must lead to the release of all Palestinians in Israeli prisons. “All for all,” a senior Islamic Jihad official said.

Israel is open to another truce, but it rejected the demands of Palestinian militants to end the war and withdraw forces from Gaza, according to Reuters.

“Positions of both sides”

On Monday evening, the Israeli war cabinet discussed the various truce proposals on the table, including the Egyptian proposal, according to an Israeli official who spoke to the New York Times on condition of anonymity to discuss the secret deliberations.

In public, Israeli officials continued to tell the public that they should expect a long and difficult war in the future.

The Israeli Army Chief of Staff, General Herzi Halevy, said on Tuesday that “the war will last for many months,” noting that Israel “will follow various methods in order to ensure that the achievement lasts a long time.”

He continued: “The IDF is about to complete the dismantling of the Hamas brigades in the northern Gaza Strip… and we will also reach the Hamas leadership, whether that takes a week or months.”

In an opinion piece published Monday in the Wall Street Journal, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated his position that Hamas must be destroyed and Gaza demilitarized — statements that appeared to rule out any role for Hamas in post-war Gaza.

However, the New York Times says, internal pressure on Netanyahu to act more forcefully to free the remaining hostages has increased since three Israeli prisoners were mistakenly killed by Israeli soldiers in Gaza City this month.

In its public statements, Hamas also appears to reject any agreement to release the remaining hostages if this does not lead to a sustainable end to hostilities.

In an interview with the New York Times on Wednesday, Zaher Jabareen, a member of the movement’s political leadership, said that the first step “must be to stop killing people in Gaza.”

He said: “Our position, which we communicated to all parties, is that we demand a comprehensive ceasefire before we talk about other issues.”

Jabareen added that many countries, including Egypt, had submitted proposals, but he was unable to discuss the details.

Since the beginning of the war, both sides have made “tough statements in public” even as talks continue in secret, often through the Qatari government, which brokered the November truce.

Despite the aggressive statements of some Israeli officials, the government said that it plans to move to a less intense phase of fighting, after repeated pressure from the United States, its strongest ally, to reduce fighting and limit civilian casualties.

Ron Dermer, a senior adviser to Netanyahu, traveled to Washington on Tuesday and met with Jake Sullivan, President Biden’s national security adviser, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

A White House official said the talks looked to focus on a different phase of the war to “tighten the focus on high-value Hamas targets,” efforts to free the remaining hostages and “planning for the next day” of the war, referring to how Gaza will be governed when the fighting ends.

This comes in conjunction with a phone call made by US President Joe Biden with the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, where they discussed urgent efforts to ensure the release of all remaining hostages held by Hamas, including American citizens.

A White House statement said that Biden discussed with the Emir of Qatar ongoing efforts to facilitate the increased and sustained flow of life-saving humanitarian aid to Gaza.

The Qatar News Agency said that Biden and the Emir of Qatar touched on the current joint mediation efforts to calm the situation in the besieged Strip and reach a permanent ceasefire.

Calls for ‘urgent steps’

The war broke out between Israel and Hamas on October 7, following an unprecedented attack launched by the movement on southern Israel.

The attack led to the death of about 1,140 people, the majority of whom were civilians, according to an Agence France-Presse count based on the latest Israeli official figures. During the attack, about 250 hostages were taken, 129 of whom are still being held in Gaza, according to Israel.

Israel is launching intensive bombardment of the besieged Gaza Strip, and began ground operations as of October 27, which led to the killing of 21,110 people, including more than eight thousand children and six thousand women, according to the latest figures issued by the Hamas government.

As operations continued on the ground, the Israeli army announced, on Thursday, the killing of three soldiers, bringing the total of its losses since the beginning of the ground fighting to 167.

On Wednesday, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights expressed “deep concern about the ongoing Israeli forces bombing of central Gaza,” stressing that “all attacks must strictly comply with the principles of international humanitarian law, including distinction, proportionality, and taking precautions.”

In turn, the Director-General of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, warned on Wednesday of a “serious danger” facing the Strip’s population of 2.4 million people.

Tedros called on the international community to take “urgent steps to mitigate the grave danger facing the people of Gaza that undermines the ability of humanitarian workers to help people suffering from horrific injuries, acute hunger, and who are at extreme risk of disease.”

The organization confirms that 21 out of 36 hospitals in the Gaza Strip have stopped working.

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