Hopes of Gaza ceasefire rise further as Hamas reportedly backs new proposal

Hopes of Gaza ceasefire rise further as Hamas reportedly backs new proposal

The Guardian reports:

Hopes for a ceasefire in Gaza have risen further after reports that Hamas has given its initial approval of a new US-backed proposal for a phased deal.

Egyptian officials and representatives of the militant Islamist organisation confirmed Hamas had dropped a key demand that Israel commits to a definitive end to the war before any pause in hostilities, Reuters and the Associated Press reported.

Efforts to secure a ceasefire and hostage release in Gaza have intensified over recent days, with active shuttle diplomacy among Washington, Israel and Qatar, which is leading mediation efforts from Doha, where the exiled Hamas leadership is based.

Observers said any progress was welcome, but pointed out that multiple rounds of negotiations over more than seven months had so far failed to bring success.

With all-out war between Israel and Hezbollah looming, and casualties in Gaza still mounting, pressure to end the war is high.

A Hezbollah official said last week the group would cease fire as soon as any Gaza deal took effect, echoing previous statements. On Thursday the Iran-backed organisation fired 200 rockets into Israel in retaliation for a strike that killed one of its top commanders.

“If there is a Gaza agreement, then from zero hour there will be a ceasefire in Lebanon,” the Hezbollah official said.

The White House has described the latest Hamas ceasefire proposal as a “breakthrough”. Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, confirmed on Friday that the director of the Mossad, Israel’s foreign intelligence service, had been sent to make an urgent visit to Qatar, but his office said “gaps between the parties” remained. [Continue reading…]

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