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US says Netanyahu backs cease-fire plan for Israel-Hamas war

Iain Marlow, Bloomberg News on

Published in News & Features

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated his support for a cease-fire proposal during a meeting in Jerusalem, as the U.S. tries to gain momentum for a plan to end the eight-month Israel-Hamas war.

“I met with Prime Minister Netanyahu last night and he reaffirmed his commitment to the proposal,” Blinken told reporters on Tuesday on his eighth trip to the Middle East since the conflict broke out in October.

Blinken said a response from Hamas to a United Nations Security Council resolution on Monday backing the cease-fire was a “hopeful sign.” However, he stressed that a final decision on the plan from Hamas leadership in Gaza was what really mattered and had yet to be delivered.

Israel and Hamas, a U.S.-designated terrorist group, have for months failed to agree terms that could lead to an end to the fighting, despite sustained efforts to mediate by Qatar, Egypt and the U.S..

Biden laid out a three-phase peace plan on May 31 that he said was backed by Israel, but the level of support from Netanyahu’s government has been clouded by uncertainty over whether it approves of all or part of the proposal.

Mediators are waiting for a formal response from Hamas and exploring ways to bridge the final gap between the two sides, according to a person familiar with the talks. Hamas wants assurances that an automatic transition will take place from one phase of the agreement to another, the person said, asking not to be identified due to the sensitivity of negotiations.

The first phase of the Biden-presented proposal calls for a cease-fire and withdrawal of Israeli forces from populated areas of Gaza, while the second stage includes a permanent end to hostilities. Some of the remaining hostages taken by Hamas during the Oct. 7 attack that triggered the war would be released in the initial phase, and the rest in phase two.

 

Israel has long insisted that Hamas must be destroyed for the war to end, both in retaliation for and to avoid a repeat of the Oct. 7 invasion. Hamas wants a guarantee of permanent cease-fire before a hostage and prisoner exchange can take place.

Gaza Aid

Later on Tuesday during a stop in neighboring Jordan, Blinken pledged more than $400 million in U.S. assistance for Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank and the broader region.

The top U.S. diplomat made the announcement at an event hosted by Jordan’s King Abdullah II in a resort town on the Dead Sea, where other nations coordinated pledges for Gaza — including around $13 million for the Palestinian Authority from the UK. In total, the United Nations is appealing to donors for $2.8 billion for Gaza and the West Bank — roughly 10-fold the amount the organization said it needed the week after Hamas attacked Israel in October.

“Give more aid,” Blinken told the assembled officials in Jordan. “There is no time to waste.”

—With assistance from Fiona MacDonald.


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