The Latest | US national security adviser says Israel stands behind cease-fire proposal

U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan has pushed back against assertions that Israel isn’t fully committed to the cease-fire proposal with Hamas that President Joe Biden outlined in late May at the White House

The Associated Press
Thursday 13 June 2024 10:23 BST

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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas

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U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan on Thursday pushed back against assertions that Israel isn’t fully committed to the cease-fire proposal with Hamas that President Joe Biden outlined in late May at the White House.

“Israel has supplied this proposal. It has been sitting on the table for some time. Israel has not contradicted or walked that back,” Sullivan said Thursday in Italy, where Biden was set to attend the annual Group of Seven leaders’ summit. “To this day they stand behind the proposal.”

“I don’t think that there is a contradiction in the Israeli position,” Sullivan added.

Sullivan reiterated that Hamas had responded by offering an amended proposal and he said the goal is “to figure out how we work to bridge the remaining gaps and get to a deal.”

“The goal is to try to bring this to a conclusion as rapidly as possible,” he told reporters.

On Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that mediators are trying to close the deal for an elusive cease-fire and hostage release in Gaza. Hamas has requested numerous changes to a U.S.-backed proposal — some of which Blinken said were “workable” and some not.

Hamas says its “amendments” aim to guarantee a permanent cease-fire and complete Israeli troop withdrawal from Gaza. The cease-fire proposal announced by Biden includes those provisions, but Hamas has expressed wariness whether Israel will implement the terms.

Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza has killed more than 37,100 people, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry, which does not distinguish between combatants and civilians in its count. Palestinians are facing widespread hunger because the war has largely cut off the flow of food, medicine and other supplies. U.N. agencies say over 1 million in Gaza could experience the highest level of starvation by mid-July.

Israel launched the war after Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack, in which militants stormed into southern Israel, killed some 1,200 people — mostly civilians — and abducted about 250.

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Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Gaza at https://apnews.com/hub/israel-hamas-war

Here's the latest:

US national security adviser says Israel stands behind cease-fire proposal

FASANO, Italy — U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan on Thursday pushed back against assertions that Israel isn’t fully committed to the cease-fire proposal with Hamas that President Joe Biden outlined in late May at the White House.

“Israel has supplied this proposal. It has been sitting on the table for some time. Israel has not contradicted or walked that back,” Sullivan said Thursday in Italy, where Biden was set to attend the annual Group of Seven leaders’ summit. “To this day they stand behind the proposal.”

“I don’t think that there is a contradiction in the Israeli position,” Sullivan added.

Sullivan reiterated that Hamas had responded by offering an amended proposal and he said the goal is “to figure out how we work to bridge the remaining gaps and get to a deal.”

“The goal is to try to bring this to a conclusion as rapidly as possible,” he told reporters.

Voices of displaced Palestinians in Gaza: jaded hopes for a cease-fire despite war's bloody toll

DEIR AL-BALAH, Gaza Strip — Weary after eight months of war, frustrated Palestinians displaced from their homes in Gaza said Wednesday they are cautiously hoping for a cease-fire.

Some are more skeptical than others, as previous moments of optimism have been dashed by differences between Israel and Hamas.

“We are psychologically tired," said Etaf Abdel Bari, a displaced woman living in central Gaza's Deir al-Balah. “They negotiated a lot, to no avail? We are not a toy in their hands. Our sons, daughters, and families killed without a reason. For what?”

More than 1 million people have fled Israel's invasion of the southern Gaza city Rafah, scattering across southern and central Gaza into new tent camps or crowding into schools and homes.

“Every day there is a truce, there is no truce. We want a solution. We want to return to our homes,” said a displaced man, Salama Abu al-Qumbuz. “We are tired of this life, sleeping in the street, transporting water. Our lives have become very boring.”

The United Nations says over one million people in Gaza face desperate hunger and don’t have enough clean drinking water.

Other residents of Deir al-Balah took a more cynical view of the back-and-forth truce talks.

“I expect the war to continue. There are no negotiations,” said Abu Jamil al-Maqadma. “The negotiations are false.”

Blinken says some of Hamas’ proposed changes to a cease-fire plan in Gaza are workable and some not

DOHA, Qatar — U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday that mediators would keep trying to close an elusive cease-fire deal after Hamas proposed numerous changes to a U.S.-backed plan, some of which he said were “workable” and some not.

The back-and-forth laid bare frustration over the difficulty of reaching an accord that can bring an end to eight months of war that has decimated Gaza, killed tens of thousands of Palestinians and left scores of Israeli hostages still languishing in militant captivity. Previous moments of optimism have been repeatedly dashed by the differences between the two sides.

The cease-fire proposal has global support but has not been fully embraced by Israel or Hamas. Blinken did not spell out what changes Hamas was seeking but he said the mediators — Qatar, Egypt and the U.S. — will keep trying to “close this deal.” He put the onus on Hamas, accusing it of changing its demands.

“Hamas has proposed numerous changes to the proposal that was on the table. ... Some of the changes are workable. Some are not,” Blinken told reporters in Qatar. “I believe that they (the differences) are bridgeable, but that doesn’t mean they will be bridged because ultimately Hamas has to decide.”

The Palestinian militant group says the “amendments” aim to guarantee a permanent cease-fire and complete Israeli troop withdrawal from Gaza.

Those provisions are included in the proposal announced by U.S. President Joe Biden, but Hamas has expressed wariness whether Israel will implement the terms. And although the U.S. says Israel has accepted the proposal, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has given conflicting statements, saying Israel is still intent on its goal of destroying Hamas.

The proposal’s three-phase plan would begin with a six-week cease-fire and the release of some hostages in exchange for Palestinian prisoners. Israeli forces would withdraw from populated areas and Palestinian civilians would be allowed to return to their homes. Aid distribution would also increase.

At the same time, negotiations would start over the second phase, which is to bring “a permanent end to hostilities” and “full withdrawal” of Israeli troops from Gaza in exchange for the release of all remaining hostages.

A major hitch for both sides appears to be the negotiations for the second phase. Phase three would see the launch of a reconstruction plan for Gaza and the return of remains of deceased hostages.

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