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Hamas demands amendments to hostage deal; Blinken: ‘Some changes unworkable’

Hamas leaders claim to act in good faith, accuse Israel of sabotaging a deal

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken at a joint press conference with the Qatari prime minister in Doha, Qatar, June 12, 2024. (Photo: REUTERS/Ibraheem Al Omari/Pool)

The terror organization Hamas delivered its official response to the latest Israeli hostage deal proposal presented by U.S. President Joe Biden almost two weeks ago, demanding several changes to the original outline.

While Israeli officials said Hamas’ response to the proposal was akin to rejection, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday said some of the demands “are workable and some are not.”

In a joint statement, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) said they were ready to negotiate “in good faith” on an agreement to end the war completely. According to Reuters, Hamas was seeking U.S. guarantees that Israel would cease fighting and withdraw from the Gaza Strip.

Egypt and Qatar, along with the United States, are the main mediators of the negotiations and vowed to continue their efforts until a deal is reached.

While Israel didn’t release an official response to Hamas, an anonymous Israeli official told media outlets the terror group had “changed all of the main and most meaningful parameters,” which amounted to a rejection of the proposal presented by Biden.

An anonymous official from one of the mediating countries told the Times of Israel that Hamas’ demands included an amended timeline, moving up the permanent ceasefire, and the withdrawal of all Israeli troops in the Gaza Strip.

“It demands that already on the third day of the deal, Israel will begin to withdraw from the road that cuts off the Strip, so that the return of displaced persons to the north of the Strip will be possible,” said Yaron Avraham, Israel's Channel 12 political correspondent.

“But the big difficulty is in the issue of the transition between Phase A and Phase B, that is, from the phase of the temporary ceasefire to the phase of the permanent ceasefire. Hamas demands guarantees that this will indeed happen, meaning stopping the war,” he added.

In addition, Hamas allegedly wants the right to choose the identity of the Palestinian prisoners who would be released, including many “heavy” prisoners with blood on their hands.

On Wednesday, Blinken commented on the issue during a meeting with the prime minister of Qatar, stating: “Hamas proposed numerous changes to the proposal that was on the table. Some of the changes are workable and some are not.”

“Hamas could have answered with a single word: 'Yes.' Instead, they waited almost two weeks and then proposed more changes, several of which go beyond positions it has previously presented and agreed to. As a result, the war will go on and more people will suffer.”

“It’s time for the haggling to stop and the ceasefire to start. Israel accepted the proposal as it is, Hamas didn’t. It is clear what needs to happen,” Blinken added.

U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said later on Wednesday that “many of the proposed changes in Hamas’ response are minor and not unanticipated. Others differ more substantially from what was outlined in the UN Security Council resolution” which was passed on Tuesday, confirming the deal and calling on Hamas to accept it.

Despite this, Hamas continues to claim it has negotiated in good faith, accusing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of wanting to continue the war.

“The Netanyahu government continued to refuse any permanent ceasefire, contrary to the Security Council's resolution. Blinken said that Israel agreed to the latest proposal but we have not heard such agreement from any senior Israeli official. We call on Blinken and the Biden administration to put pressure on the Israeli government,” the terror group said in a statement on Wednesday evening.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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