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Hamas Needs to Make Decision on Israel Truce Offer, US Says

Hamas Needs to Make Decision on Israel Truce Offer, US Says
A Palestinian man looks at the rubble after returning to Al Nusairat refugee camp following the Israeli army’s withdrawal from the area, southern Gaza Strip, 18 April 2024. More than 33,900 Palestinians and at least 1,450 Israelis have been killed, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), since Hamas militants launched an attack against Israel from the Gaza Strip on 07 October 2023, and the Israeli operations in Gaza and the West Bank which followed it. EPA-EFE/MOHAMMED SABER

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged leaders of the Hamas militant group to quickly reach a decision on Israeli conditions for a temporary cease-fire, a move that could help bring an end to fighting in Gaza.

Israel has been “extraordinarily generous” with proposals made during talks mediated by Qatar and Egypt to secure the release of Israeli hostages held by Hamas, Blinken said at a special event of the World Economic Forum in Riyadh on Monday. He wasn’t more specific about the offer on the table.

The US diplomat traveled to the region — his seventh trip to the Middle East since the Israel-Hamas conflict began in early October — to push for at least a pause in hostilities under a temporary cease-fire agreement. Hamas, designated a terrorist organization by the US and European Union, is expected to respond on Monday to the Jewish state’s latest offer, Agence France-Presse has reported.

Read More: US Pushes for Gaza Truce, Hostage Release as Blinken Visits 

The US supports Israeli efforts to defend itself and prevent future attacks, and is determined to bring an end to the current conflict, Blinken said. President Joe Biden’s administration has repeatedly urged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to do more to protect civilians of Gaza, while remaining a staunch ally and supplier of arms.

Hamas has been presented with a “proposal that is extraordinarily generous on the part of Israel. The only thing that’s standing between the people of Gaza and a cease-fire is Hamas,” Blinken said. “They have to decide quickly.”

Israel may be willing to compromise on the number of hostages freed in an initial phase of any deal, Israeli media reported last week. Hamas had said it can’t free 40 women, elderly or sick captives as demanded in return for a six-week cease-fire because it doesn’t have enough hostages in that category.

Meetings Blitz

Blinken’s first stop in his latest trip to the region is Saudi Arabia, where the US is eager to see the forging of diplomatic ties with Israel.

Work between the kingdom and the US is “very close to completion,” he said. Further progress in restoring full ties between Saudi Arabia and Israel requires peace in Gaza and a roadmap for the creation of a future Palestinian state, he said.

The top US diplomat spoke amid a blitz of meetings, including with foreign ministers of Gulf Cooperation Council countries and representatives from Egypt, Jordan and Qatar, among others.

Blinken is also due to travel to Jordan and Israel in his push for the cease-fire deal, after months of deadlocked talks between the Jewish state and Hamas. The US is seeking to persuade Israel to call off an invasion of Rafah, the southern Gaza city where more than a million Palestinians have taken refuge.

Read More: Why Rafah Is Raising Fears in Israel-Hamas War: QuickTake

On Oct. 7, Hamas attacked Israel in surprise raids, killing over 1,200 people and taking around 250 as hostages. More than 34,000 Palestinians were killed in the ensuing Israeli campaign, according to Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza.

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