Blinken Urges Hamas To Take 'Extraordinarily Generous' Ceasefire Deal

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by Tyler Durden
Monday, Apr 29, 2024 - 10:00 PM

Israeli officials have reportedly given Hamas an ultimatum, saying the group has "one last chance" to reach a deal, according to Axios. Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz said on Saturday"If there is a deal, we will suspend the operation" - in reference to the planned Rafah ground offensive.

He added that "The release of the hostages is a deep priority for us." Following Oct.7 and the first hostage/prisoner swap which took place on November 22, the number of Israeli hostages (and dual nationals) which remain in Hamas captivity stand at 129. However, Israeli leaders have long acknowledged the likelihood that many of these are already deceased.

Via AP

Hamas is still pressing for a full and permanent cessation of all hostilities, along with full Israeli military withdrawal from Gaza, while Tel Aviv is just pushing for a temporary pause in fighting.

According to Al Jazeera, this is ultimately unlikely to sway Hamas negotiators:

Israel wants to "have its cake and eat it too. They want to get their captives back out of Gaza and into Israel. But then they want to be able to continue the war on Gaza after a brief pause," Mohamad Elmasry, media studies professor and political analyst at the Doha Institute for Graduate Studies, told Al Jazeera.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is in Saudi Arabia on Monday, his first stop in a broader Middle East tour focused primarily in Gaza, but he's pushing Saudi-Israel normalization.

Blinken has called on Hamas to accept Israel's latest and "extraordinarily generous" proposal for a Gaza truce. "Hamas has before it a proposal that is extraordinarily, extraordinarily generous on the part of Israel," the US top diplomat said.

"The only thing standing between the people of Gaza and a ceasefire is Hamas. They have to decide and they have to decide quickly," Blinken said from Riyadh. "I'm hopeful that they will make the right decision."

This is where things stand via Reuters:

A source briefed on the talks said Israel's proposal entailed a deal to accept the release of fewer than 40 of the roughly 130 hostages believed to be still held in exchange for freeing Palestinians jailed in Israel, and a second phase of a truce consisting of a "period of sustained calm" - Israel’s compromise response to a Hamas demand for permanent ceasefire.

Among these 40 would be any remaining children, women, sick and elderly hostages. Both sides have been this close before, but never with Washington applying this much pressure to see a deal through to the finish line.

Blinken has sought to assure Arab states and Palestinian leaders that the US cannot support an attack against Rafah "in the absence of an (Israeli) plan to ensure that civilians will not be harmed." 

Blinken and the Biden administration are still hoping to secure a broader deal involving Saudi Arabia, which he says is "potentially very close to completion." It hinges on Saudi-Israeli diplomatic recognition, and in return the basis for recognition of a Palestinian state by Israel.

"To move forward with normalization, two things will be required: calm in Gaza and a credible pathway to a Palestinian state," Blinken said in fresh remarks.

However, Hamas is believed to have several intact battalions inside Rafah, and the Netanyahu government has vowed to see through its operation until it has accomplished the total eradication of Hamas. To do this, Israel believes it must got into Rafah with full ground and air might, but it will result in humanitarian catastrophe for the over one million civilians currently taking refuge there.