Hamas drops key demand to accept phased US deal on ceasefire, hostages

Hamas on Saturday tentatively accepted a US-backed proposal for a phased cease-fire in Gaza, abandoning its demand for an upfront commitment from Israel to end the war entirely. This potential agreement, still under negotiation, could initiate a six-week cease-fire involving hostage and prisoner exchanges and pave the way for broader talks to conclude the nine-month conflict.

Hamas has given initial approval for a U.S.-backed proposal for a phased cease-fire deal in Gaza, dropping a key demand that Israel give an up-front commitment for a complete end to the war, a Hamas and an Egyptian official said Saturday.

The apparent compromise by the militant group — which controlled Gaza before triggering the war with an Oct. 7 attack on Israel — could help deliver the first pause in fighting since last November and set the stage for further talks on ending a devastating nine-month war. But all sides cautioned that a deal is still not guaranteed.

Over that period, Hamas, Israel and the mediators would also negotiate the terms of the second phase that could see the release of the remaining male hostages, both civilians and soldiers, the officials said. In return, Israel would free additional Palestinian prisoners and detainees. The third phase would see the return of any remaining hostages, including bodies of dead captives, and the start of a yearslong reconstruction project.

“Now we want these guarantees on paper,” he said.

(AP)


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