STORY: Hamas said Tuesday that it had received and was considering a new proposal for a ceasefire and the release of hostages in Gaza.
Mediators submitted the proposal to Hamas after negotiations with Israel in what appeared to be the most serious peace initiative in months.
A senior Hamas official told Reuters the proposal involved a three-stage truce, in which the group would first release the remaining civilians among the hostages captured on October 7, then the soldiers and finally the bodies of the slain hostages. .
The ceasefire proposal follows talks in Paris involving the intelligence chiefs of Israel, the United States and Egypt, along with the prime minister of Qatar.
In a sign of the seriousness of the negotiations, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said he would travel to Cairo to discuss them, his first public trip there in more than a month.
But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated his pledge not to withdraw troops from Gaza until “total victory.”
“I hear talk about all kinds of (hostage) deals, so I want to clarify: We will not end this war until we achieve all of its objectives. That means eliminating Hamas, returning all of our hostages and ensure that Gaza will no longer pose a threat to Israel.”
Hamas, whose fighters precipitated the war by storming Israeli towns on October 7, killing 1,200 people and capturing 253 hostages, says it will only release its remaining prisoners as part of a broader deal aimed at putting a definitive end to the war.
Israel has killed more than 26,000 Palestinians in the war so far and more than 2 million people in the enclave have been displaced.
The fighting in Gaza has led to escalation elsewhere in the Middle East, including attacks on U.S. forces by armed groups allied with Iran.
U.S. President Joe Biden said Tuesday he had made a decision on how to respond to a drone attack that killed U.S. service members in Jordan, without providing further details.
But he echoed comments from other U.S. officials, who said the United States did not want war with Iran.
“I don’t think we need a broader war in the Middle East. That’s not what I’m looking for.”