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US urges Hamas to accept Israeli proposal for Gaza truce – Vatican News

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A senior Hamas delegation is in Egypt for the latest round of negotiations aimed at pausing – if not stopping – Israel’s war on Gaza. The talks are seen as a chance to prevent a looming Israeli ground offensive in the southern city of Rafah where half of Gaza’s population has sought shelter from fighting elsewhere.

By Linda Bordoni

The US Secretary of State has urged the Hamas leadership to accept what he termed as Israel’s “generous proposal” for a Gaza truce to secure a release of hostages.

Anthony Blinken’s words came on Monday during a press conference on the sidelines of a World Economic Forum meeting in Riyadh, as Hamas negotiators were preparing to meet Qatari and Egyptian mediators in Cairo.

They are expected to deliver a response to the phased truce proposal Israel presented at the weekend, ahead of a threatened Israeli ground assault on the southern border city of Rafah that has been undergoing a barrage of airstrikes that have killed scores of people.

The attacks come amid renewed international efforts to broker a ceasefire in the nearly 7-month-old conflict triggered by an assault by Hamas militants that killed some 1,200 Israelis and took 250 hostages on 7 October.

Since then, more than 34,000 Palestinians have been killed in Israel’s ensuing retaliatory operation in Gaza, which has left most of the enclave in ruins.

The proposal

The latest ceasefire proposal appears to include compromises from Israel, which is under international and domestic pressure over the fate of the hostages and the humanitarian crisis its war has caused in Gaza.

Israel is reportedly willing to accept the release of fewer than 40 hostages in exchange for Palestinians held in Israeli jails and agree to a second phase of a truce that includes a “period of sustained calm” – a new response to Hamas’s repeated demand for a permanent ceasefire.

It is also reportedly open to discussing the return of Palestinians to their homes in the northern half of the strip, and the withdrawal of Israeli troops from a central corridor that now divides the territory.

(Source: Reuters and other agencies)

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