Blinken Criticizes Hamas’s Counter-Proposal to Ceasefire

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has expressed disappointment with Palestinian militants amid ongoing ceasefire negotiations with Israel.

Blinken stated on Wednesday that the latest modifications proposed by Hamas militants to a Washington-backed ceasefire agreement between the Palestinian militants and Israel are not “workable.”

The US had previously proposed a three-phase plan to establish an “enduring” ceasefire in Gaza, which supposedly involves the release of all hostages and the withdrawal of Israeli forces from the enclave. Although the specific details have not been made public, the US announced late last month that Israel had agreed to the deal, despite Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu not publicly endorsing it.

However, Hamas rejected the plan in its current form on Tuesday and suggested several changes, aiming to “put the priority on the interests of the Palestinian people” and stop the ongoing aggression against Gaza through a complete withdrawal of Israeli forces from the enclave.

During a press conference in Doha alongside Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani, Blinken stated that some of the changes proposed by the Palestinian group are “workable” while some “are not.”

“Hamas could have answered with a single word: Yes,” Blinken said, claiming that the group’s reluctance to sign the deal was responsible for the ongoing hostilities in Gaza.

The diplomat continued by accusing Hamas of intentionally continuing to “change its demands” and insisting on altering things “it already accepted,” suggesting that the Palestinian group was not acting in “good faith.”

In response to Blinken’s comments, Hamas official Taher Al-Nunu accused the Secretary of State of bias and double standards while attempting to portray the group as the party obstructing the deal. Al-Nunu told Al Jazeera’s TV news network that it was Israel that first introduced amendments to the original proposal and that Hamas’ latest changes are effectively counter-revisions.

However, Al-Nunu stated that Hamas could be flexible about the demands Blinken has labeled as unworkable and finds it “normal” for negotiating parties to accept or reject amendments to a proposal.

Qatar’s Mohammed has also suggested that the current situation is nothing new in terms of how negotiations are carried out, stating that “there is always space and ‘give and take’” and that there is never an absolute yes-or-no response in such dealings.

So far, over 37,000 Palestinians have been killed during Israel’s Gaza offensive, which was sparked by a Hamas cross-border attack on October 7, in which the group killed 1,200 people and took more than 200 hostages.