US-Backed Ceasefire Proposal Stalls as Israel and Hamas Disagree on Terms

The warring parties have reportedly failed to achieve a deal on the cessation of hostilities and the release of hostages

Hamas has rejected the US-brokered ceasefire proposal, several news outlets reported on Tuesday night, citing Israeli officials. Hamas, meanwhile, has disputed this account. 

The US revealed in late May that Israel had agreed to a proposed three-phase plan, which included a ceasefire and the release of remaining hostages held in Gaza.

Hamas and the smaller Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) group released a statement this week, saying that they had submitted their own response to the US-backed draft.   

“This evening, Israel received, via the mediator, the Hamas response. In its response, Hamas has rejected the proposal for a hostage release that was presented by President Biden,” an Israeli official who spoke on the condition of anonymity told the Times of Israel.

Reuters quoted an unnamed Israeli official as saying that the Palestinian militant group “changed all of the main and most meaningful parameters” of the potential deal.

Hamas, however, said that it had merely affirmed its previous position regarding the need for a comprehensive end of hostilities. “Our response is our commitment to what we previously committed to, a ceasefire and [complete] withdrawal from Gaza,” senior Hamas official Osama Hamdan told the Lebanese Al Mayadeen TV channel on Tuesday. Hamas “cannot compromise on the rights of its people under any circumstances,” he said. 

According to CNN, the armed group had proposed amendments to the Israeli proposal, including a timeline for a ceasefire and the withdrawal of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) from Gaza.

On Monday, the UN Security Council passed a resolution calling on both parties to implement the proposed ceasefire “without delay and without condition.” 

The political coordinator at Israel’s mission to the UN, Reut Shapir Ben-Naftaly, reiterated on Monday that the Jewish state intends to “ensure that Gaza doesn’t pose a threat to Israel in the future” and bring back all of the hostages captured by Hamas during its October 7 raid. Speaking at the Security Council, she accused Hamas of using “endless negotiations… as a means to stall for time.”

More than 37,000 Palestinians have been killed during the conflict, which entered its ninth month last week. The current round of fighting was triggered by Hamas’ surprise attack in October, which left some 1,200 Israelis dead and more than 200 people taken captive. Dozens of hostages were subsequently released as part of prisoner swaps during a weeklong truce in November. The IDF rescued four hostages during a commando raid into Gaza on June 8.