Biden unveils Israeli proposal for truce in Gaza

President Biden on Friday unveiled a three-phase Israeli proposal for a ceasefire in Gaza, aimed at ending the ongoing conflict and securing the release of Israeli hostages. The plan received an initial positive response from Hamas.

The first phase calls for a six-week ceasefire during which Israeli forces would withdraw from populated areas in Gaza. In return, Hamas would release some hostages, including women and the elderly, in exchange for hundreds of Palestinian prisoners. This phase would also allow Palestinian civilians to return home and facilitate the delivery of 600 trucks of humanitarian aid daily into Gaza. During this period, Hamas and Israel would negotiate a permanent ceasefire, which would be extended if negotiations exceed six weeks.

In the second phase, all remaining hostages would be exchanged, including male soldiers, and Israeli forces would fully withdraw from Gaza, marking the start of a permanent ceasefire.

The third phase focuses on a significant reconstruction plan for Gaza and the return of the final remains of hostages to their families.

“It’s time for this war to end and for the day after to begin,” Biden said, facing election-year pressure to resolve the conflict, now in its eighth month.

Hamas, which received the proposal through Qatar, expressed a willingness to engage constructively. In a statement, Hamas indicated readiness to support a permanent ceasefire, Israeli withdrawal, Gaza reconstruction, the return of displaced persons, and a genuine prisoner swap, contingent on Israel’s clear commitment.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office confirmed that his negotiating team would present the deal but emphasized that the war would not conclude until all Israeli objectives, including the return of hostages and the dismantling of Hamas’ military and governmental capabilities, were met.

Meanwhile, the Israeli military announced the conclusion of operations in north Gaza’s Jabalia area after intense fighting, shifting focus to Rafah in the south, targeting what they claim is the last significant Hamas stronghold.

The conflict began on October 7 when Hamas-led gunmen launched an attack into southern Israel, killing 1,200 people and abducting more than 250, according to Israeli reports. Israel responded by invading Gaza, with Netanyahu declaring an effort to destroy Hamas, which took control of the area from the Fatah faction in 2007.

Efforts to broker a ceasefire through Egyptian and Qatari mediation have repeatedly faltered, with both sides blaming each other for the lack of progress.