Hamas is reportedly still holding consultations on a ceasefire and hostage release proposal that was drafted last week as U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken returns to the Middle East to rally support for the deal.
The New York Times reports that a Hamas-affiliated broadcaster said on Sunday the Palestinian group was still in discussion over the proposals that would see Israel halt hostilities in the Gaza Strip in return for the release of the remaining Israeli hostages held by Hamas since its Oct. 7 assault on Israel.
Speaking on CBS Face The Nation on Sunday, Jake Sullivan, national security adviser to the president, said: “The ball is in Hamas’ court at this time.”
And on NBC Meet The Press, he said: “At this point, it’s up to Hamas to come forward and respond to what is a serious proposal.”
Blinken On Diplomatic Tour
Meanwhile, on Monday Blinken set off on a fifth diplomacy mission to the region — where he is expected to visit Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Egypt and Israel — in an effort to advance talks on the ceasefire and hostage release proposals.
The biggest hurdle in securing a deal is likely to be Hamas’ insistence that, in return for the release of Israeli hostages, Israel must free Palestinian prisoners.
Benjamin Netanayhu, Israel’s prime minister, remained steadfast in his opposition to suggestions that Palestinian prisoners held in Israel could be released as part of the deal.
His office released a statement on Sunday: “We will not agree to every deal, and not at any price. Many things that are being said in the media, as if we had agreed to them, such as regarding the release of terrorists, we will simply not agree to them.”
Last week Netanyahu maintained that Israel would continue to pursue its operations in Gaza until it had secured “absolute victory” over Hamas.
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