What’s Stance of Hamas and Israel on US-Proposed Truce Plan Endorsed by UN

Maryam Qarehgozlou, Orinoco Tribune, June 13, 2024 — 

On Tuesday evening, a joint delegation of Palestinian resistance movements, Hamas and Islamic Jihad, delivered their response to the US-proposed ceasefire deal to Qatari authorities.

According to Palestinian media reports, the response prioritizes the interests of the Palestinian people and the necessity of completely halting the ongoing aggression against the Gaza Strip.

The Palestinian resistance groups reaffirmed their commitment and readiness to engage positively in reaching an agreement that ends the eight-month aggression on the besieged Palestinian territory.

Immediately after the response was delivered, Egypt and Qatar confirmed it and posted a joint statement on the Facebook page of the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“The two sides confirm that their joint mediation efforts with the United States of America will continue until an agreement is reached, as the mediators will study the response and coordinate with the parties concerned regarding the next steps,” the statement read.

Hamas political bureau member Izzat Al-Rishq stated that the response submitted by the resistance groups is “responsible, serious, and positive.”

“The response is consistent with the demands of our people and our resistance, and opens a wide path to reach an agreement. The Israeli media’s incitement to Hamas’ response indicates attempts to evade the agreement’s obligations,” he said.

Hussam Badran, Head of the National Relations Office at Hamas, emphasized the Palestinian demands, “most notably a ceasefire and the occupation’s withdrawal from Gaza.”

“We have not returned to point zero in the negotiations, and what is new is the Security Council’s decision and Biden’s speech on the necessity of ending the war,” he noted.

“Nothing positive came from the occupation regarding the recent UN Security Council resolution. The ball is in Netanyahu’s court, and pressure must be directed at the occupation.”

Rasmi Abu Issa, Palestinian Islamic Jihad Arab Relations Officer, stated that Benjamin Netanyahu tried to communicate with the Islamic Jihad separately, but his request was denied.

“The resistance insists on stopping the aggression and the withdrawal of the occupation army from Gaza,” he asserted.

Ceasefire and withdrawal of occupation forces

Osama Hamdan, in an interview with Al-Mayadeen late on Tuesday, divulged more details about the response of the Palestinian resistance to the Israeli regime and the US through mediators.

He said the US administration is trying to give the Israeli regime a chance and is aligned with it, and the disagreement is only tactical, adding that the UNSC resolution on truce is riddled with gaps.

“Hamas welcomed the UN resolution because it includes a ceasefire, relief for the Palestinians, and negotiations,” the spokesman for the Hamas office said.

“The talk about the ‘next day’ is an illusion created by Israelis, and for us, the next day is distinctly Palestinian. We cannot trust Israel; it only yields when it feels it cannot achieve victory.”

He added that Hamas leadership does not succumb to pressures of any kind and remains positive about the future due to resistance.

Signals from the Israeli side suggest they are not yet ready for the cessation of aggression that has already claimed 37,300 lives, the majority of them children and women, since October 7.

The latest push to end the Israeli aggression was greenlighted by the United Nations Security Council on Monday with an overwhelming majority of votes, with only Russia abstaining.

The US-backed proposal came after Israel’s biggest arms supplier repeatedly vetoed resolutions in the UN to stop the Zionist aggression against Palestinians since the war erupted in October last year.

The three-stage peace deal sets out conditions intended to lead to the eventual release of all remaining captives held in Gaza by Hamas in exchange for Palestinians held in Israeli jails, and in return for a permanent ceasefire and withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza.

It also includes a clause stating that an initial six-week ceasefire would be extended as long as talks continued over a second phase.

How Palestinians and Israelis reacted to the resolution

Hamas, in a statement on the same day, welcomed the resolution and stressed the need for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza, the complete withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza, prisoner exchanges, the return of residents to their homes, and the “rejection of any demographic change or reduction in the area of the Gaza Strip.”

“The movement aims to affirm its readiness to cooperate with the brotherly mediators to enter into indirect negotiations regarding the implementation of these principles, which align with the demands of our people and our resistance,” the statement said.

Hamdan reiterated that the resistance movement has shown “responsiveness” and “positivity” towards all proposed ceasefire deals.

Palestinian UN envoy Riyad Mansour said the Palestinian Authority, which governs the occupied West Bank, welcomes the deal as a “step in the right direction,” but noted that it was up to the Israeli regime to implement those measures.

Shortly after the UN resolution was adopted, Israel vowed to persist with its all-out war on Gaza and carried out deadly attacks across the besieged Palestinian territory.

Reut Shapir Ben-Naftaly, Israel’s representative to the UN, said on Monday that the war would not end until all captives were returned and Hamas’ capabilities were “dismantled.”

Israeli website Ynet News reported that the resolution’s wording does not reflect the deal Israel agreed on, which included Hamas no longer governing Gaza.

The website, quoting an unnamed Israeli official, said the resolution restricts Israeli freedom of action.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, during his visit to the occupied territories on Monday, said Netanyahu had already supported the deal; however, he hasn’t said so publicly.

Netanyahu’s cabinet members have so far rejected any peace plans and are threatening to bring down the coalition if the recent agreement is adopted.

Israeli policy of procrastination

On Monday, the Israeli Channel 12 news report published extensive details of what it said was Israel’s May 27 ceasefire proposal, without citing sources or explaining how it obtained it.

The report revealed that the four-page document did not provide for the “elimination” of Hamas and actually included an Israeli commitment to end the war even before all captives are released.

But soon after the report was broadcast, Netanyahu’s office called it “misleading” and “incomplete,” and claimed the assertion that Israel had agreed to end the war before achieving its goals was “a total lie.”

Netanyahu’s office repeated that the full document would show that “Israel will not end the war until all its conditions are met — that is, fighting until Hamas is eliminated, returning all of our captives, and ensuring that Gaza never again represents a threat to Israel.”

However, the regime prime minister refused to release the text of the Israeli proposal even to his cabinet, drawing criticism from his coalition members who accuse him of purposefully concealing information.

Israeli media reported that the proposal described by Channel 12 is the same three-phase deal outlined by Biden on May 31.

Biden’s proposal was also “positively” welcomed by Hamas at the time, but Israel described it as a “non-starter,” while Biden, like Channel 12, insisted that Israel had agreed to end the war.

Netanyahu confirmed then that he had “authorized the negotiating team to present a proposal” but one that would “enable Israel to continue the war until all its objectives are achieved.”

Deepening divisions in regime

Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid urged Netanyahu to heed Biden’s call for a Gaza truce and offered to support him by ensuring its Knesset majority should Netanyahu’s far-right partners withdraw.

Benny Gantz, then a member of the Israeli regime’s war cabinet, issued a statement welcoming Biden’s speech and called on Netanyahu to push forward with a deal.

He resigned on Sunday and joined the opposition, citing the failure of the wider war cabinet to agree on a plan for Gaza beyond the current eight-month-old conflict.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also endorsed the plan, as did many of Israel’s allies, including the United Kingdom, France, and Germany.

Families of captives held by Hamas called for the Israeli regime to immediately accept Biden’s proposal, saying this could be their “last chance.”

However, most predictably, two Israeli ministers, Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben-Gvir, opposed striking any deal before Hamas “was destroyed” and threatened to quit and dissolve the coalition if Netanyahu agrees to the Gaza ceasefire proposal unveiled by Biden.

Biden, foreseeing the deepening internal rift in Netanyahu’s coalition, acknowledged in his late-May speech that divisions inside Israel could prevent a deal from being reached.

“I know there are those in Israel who will not agree with this plan and will call for the war to continue indefinitely. Some are even in [Netanyahu’s] coalition,” he said, not naming anyone.

What does the proposal say?

The first phase of the UNSC resolution, and what Biden proposed in late May, would last six weeks and entail an “immediate, full, and complete ceasefire,” a withdrawal of Israeli forces from all “densely populated” areas of Gaza, and the exchange of captives held in Gaza, including women, the elderly, and the wounded, for hundreds of Palestinians held in Israeli prisons.

Humanitarian assistance would also increase during the first phase, with more trucks carrying aid being allowed daily into Gaza, where a total siege and Israel’s chokehold on aid have led to famine and a dire humanitarian situation.

Phase two would see the release of all remaining captives and the “full” pull-out of Israeli forces from Gaza. The third phase focuses on the reconstruction of the territory.

Many commentators pointed out that the deal wasn’t different from the one Hamas agreed to on May 6, which was also rejected by Israel.

“To be clear, the president has just repackaged a Hamas proposal as a US-endorsed Israeli proposal, perhaps believing this would make an Israeli surrender to Hamas more palatable to Israelis,” former US President Donald Trump National Security Council staff member and FDD senior adviser Richard Goldberg was quoted as saying by Fox News Digital in late May.

A statement from Hamas said earlier that while it had shown “flexibility and positivity in dealing with the efforts of the mediators throughout all previous rounds of indirect negotiations” Israel had used the months of ongoing talks as a cover to continue its war on Gaza.

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

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