US Optimist, Israel, Hamas, and Qatari Mediators Voice Concerns Over Gaza Ceasefire

US Optimist, Israel, Hamas, and Qatari Mediators Voice Concerns Over Gaza Ceasefire

RAFAH, Gaza Strip - Israel, Hamas, and Qatari mediators are expressing caution regarding progress toward a ceasefire in Gaza, despite U.S. President Joe Biden's optimism about reaching an agreement within a week to halt the conflict during Ramadan.

Hamas is considering a proposal for a 40-day ceasefire, discussed in Paris talks last week and currently under negotiation in Qatar. The proposal entails releasing some hostages, increasing humanitarian aid to Gaza, and withdrawing Israeli troops from populated areas, but falls short of meeting Hamas' demand for a clear path to a permanent end to the conflict and Israeli withdrawal.

Critics, including a U.N. expert on the right to food, accuse Israel of deliberately depriving people in Gaza of food, labeling it a war crime. However, Israel's Deputy U.N. Ambassador asserts Israel's commitment to improving the humanitarian situation in Gaza, with aid quantities contingent on the capacity of international agencies.

Israeli officials maintain that any ceasefire deal must involve Hamas dropping what they deem as "outlandish demands." Qatar, the main mediator, acknowledges the absence of a final agreement on key issues but remains hopeful for progress.

Hamas officials view Biden's remarks on a potential ceasefire as premature, emphasizing significant gaps still existing in negotiations. The conflict, which began in October with Hamas capturing hostages, has led to substantial casualties and displacement.

The proposed 40-day truce would involve releasing select hostages and detainees, repositioning Israeli troops, allowing Gaza residents to return home, and increasing aid. However, concerns persist among Gaza residents about the potential for renewed hostilities after previous ceasefires failed to hold.

Efforts continue to bridge the gaps between the conflicting parties, with hopes pinned on achieving a lasting resolution to the protracted conflict in Gaza.

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