US considers unilateral talks with Hamas: NBC

Ahram Online , Monday 10 Jun 2024

The White House may engage in unilateral talks with Hamas to secure the release of five American captives held in Gaza if current ceasefire efforts fail. These talks, excluding Israel, would be conducted with Qatari mediation, reported NBC news.

US President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden (hidden) disembark from Air Force One upon arrival at Philadelphia International Airport in Pennsylvania. AFP


It still remains unclear what the US could offer Hamas in exchange for the safe return of the captives. 

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Egypt on Monday at the start of a new MidEast tour meant to push forward the new ceasefire proposal presented by US President Joe Biden.

The top US diplomat, paying his eighth visit to the region since the newest Israeli war on Gaza broke out, was set to start the trip in Egypt and head later Monday to Israel.

Blinken planned the visit to push forward Biden's proposal announced on. The US president has stepped up efforts to end a war that has taken a mounting toll on Palestinian civilians in Gaza and alienated parts of his base ahead of November elections.

While Biden has described his plan as coming from Israel, the resignation on Sunday of a key centrist, Benny Gantz, from Netanyahu's war cabinet throws a new wild card on US diplomatic efforts.

Gantz announced in a televised speech his resignation from Netanyahu's emergency government and called for elections as soon as possible.

He said last month he would resign from the emergency body if Netanyahu did not approve a post-war plan for Gaza by 8 June.

Minutes after Gantz's resignation, the former Israeli chief of staff Gadi Eisenkot submitted his resignation from the council.

Minister Chili Tropper from the National Unity Party submitted his resignation from the government following the resignations of Gantz and Eisenkot.

The series of high-profile resignations sheds light on growing tensions within the Israeli political landscape. 

Shortly after Biden unveiled the ceasefire plan, Netanyahu said the roadmap was only "partial."

The Israeli War Council decided to request guarantees from the US that war on Gaza would continue even after reaching a captives deal with Hamas, the Israeli Broadcast reported last Wednesday.

It said that the Israeli leadership's concerns about the possibility that Washington would not support the continuation of the war — within the framework of the proposed deal with the Palestinian resistance group — prompted it to request these guarantees.

The council's decision to request these guarantees may rule out the possibility of reaching a deal, the authority quoted a source in Netanyahu's government as saying.

A senior Hamas official said on Thursday that Biden's proposed Gaza ceasefire deal was "just words" and the Palestinian group had not received any written commitments related to a truce.

Osama Hamdan, a Hamas official based in Beirut, told AFP: "There is no proposal -- they are just words said by Biden in a speech."

"So far, the Americans have not presented anything documented or written that commits them to what Biden said in his speech," he said from the Lebanese capital.

Hamdan said Biden "tried to cover up the Israeli rejection" of another deal offered earlier in May, which had been approved by Hamas.

He said the resistance group was willing to accept any deal that met his movement's core demands of a permanent ceasefire in Gaza and the complete withdrawal of Israeli troops from the territory.

The US President said on 1 June that Israel had offered a new roadmap towards a permanent peace in Gaza, urging Hamas to accept the surprise deal as it was "time for this war to end."

In his first major address outlining a solution to the conflict, Biden said the three-phase proposal starts with a six-week complete ceasefire that would see Israeli forces withdraw from all populated areas of Gaza.

"It's time for this war to end, for the day after to begin," Biden said in a televised address from the White House.

He later said in an interview with Time magazine that there is “every reason” to draw the conclusion that Netanyahu is prolonging the war in Gaza for his own political self-preservation.

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