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Gaza war: New hope for ceasefire according to US government official

Gaza war: New hope for ceasefire according to US government official
Gaza war: New hope for ceasefire according to US government official

Indirect negotiations on a ceasefire in Gaza have been going on for months, but hopes of an agreement have been dashed time and again. Now there is to be rapprochement on a crucial point.

In the midst of the escalating conflict between Israel and the Lebanese Hezbollah militia, there is new hope for a ceasefire in the Gaza war. A “breakthrough” has been achieved at a point where negotiations have so far been at a dead end, said a US government official. “What we got back from Hamas was a pretty clear adjustment of their position, and we find that encouraging.” The Islamist organization submitted a proposal to the mediators, the USA, Qatar and Egypt, on Wednesday, which it says contains a number of ideas.

Report: Hamas moves away from position

Hamas is no longer demanding a complete withdrawal of Israeli troops during the first phase of a three-stage plan presented by US President Joe Biden in May, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing an Israeli government official. The first phase envisages the release of some hostages during a six-week ceasefire.

The official told the newspaper that indirect negotiations were still difficult. The US news portal Axios quoted an Israeli official as saying that a possible deal could take two to three weeks.

“We expect this agreement to lead to a permanent ceasefire,” said the US government representative. According to Israeli media, the indirect negotiations are to continue today in Doha. The previous evening, Israel’s security cabinet discussed the mandate for its own delegation led by the head of the foreign intelligence service Mossad, David Barnea. US President Biden welcomed the dispatch of a negotiating team approved by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Netanyahu reaffirms his own goals

The most important point is that Hamas’s response includes “flexibility” that allows both sides to enter the first phase of the agreement – even with the risk that the next phase will not materialize, Axios quoted Israeli officials as saying. According to the plan, the second phase envisages a permanent cessation of fighting and the release of the remaining hostages. 120 hostages are believed to still be in the sealed-off coastal strip, but many of them are probably no longer alive.

In a phone call with Biden, Netanyahu reiterated that the war will not end until Israel has achieved all of its goals, including the destruction of Hamas and the release of all hostages. He recently announced that the last major Hamas units in southern Gaza would soon be destroyed. This could at least end the large-scale ground offensive, even if it would not be the end of the military operation in Gaza.

Israel is now increasingly turning its attention to its northern border with Lebanon. There, the Shiite Hezbollah militia, supported by Israel’s arch-enemy Iran, recently fired more than 200 rockets and 20 drones at Israel in response to the killing of a high-ranking commander. An Israeli reservist with the rank of major was killed in the attack, the Israeli armed forces said.

Gaza war: Biden assures Israel of support

Hezbollah will not stop attacking Israel until there is a ceasefire in Gaza. It says it is acting in solidarity with Hamas.

“President Biden reiterated his ironclad commitment to Israel’s security, including in the face of the threat posed by Iran-backed terrorist groups such as Lebanon’s Hezbollah,” the White House said after Biden’s conversation with Netanyahu. A meeting of Biden and Netanyahu’s top advisers is also planned for July 15, it said.

An agreement on a ceasefire and the release of hostages in the Gaza war could be the most effective means of preventing a conflagration in the Middle East, wrote the Wall Street Journal. Israel and Hezbollah have been fighting almost daily since the Gaza war began. Recently, the intensity of the fighting has increased significantly. There are concerns that the fighting will escalate into a regional conflict in which the USA and Iran could also be drawn.

Iran is allied not only with Hezbollah and Hamas, but also with non-state actors in Iraq and Yemen. Syria is Tehran’s only strategic partner at the state level.

Israel allows thousands of housing units in the West Bank

Israel’s military administration has meanwhile approved the construction of 5,295 housing units in the West Bank. In addition, three settler outposts are to be legalized, according to the human rights organization Peace Now. The High Planning Council, a committee of the military administration for the West Bank, made the corresponding decisions. The Israeli occupation authorities had already decided to legalize five outposts last week.

According to international law, any settlement activity in militarily occupied areas is illegal. The settlements are also illegal under Israeli law, but they are occasionally legalized retroactively. During the Six-Day War in 1967, Israel conquered the West Bank and East Jerusalem, among other areas. Today, around 700,000 Israeli settlers live there among three million Palestinians. In 1993, there were 250,000, according to Peace Now.

Source: Stern

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