US, Jordan throw support behind Gaza ceasefire effort ahead of new talks


By Nidal Al-Mughrabi, Emily Rose and Trevor Honeycutt

DOHA/JERUSALEM/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden and Jordan’s King Abdullah kept up pressure for a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip as senior mediators were to resume work on an Israel-Hamas ceasefire deal on Tuesday, in which Israeli A ground attack was threatened. Cruising in Rafa.

Sources familiar with the matter said senior officials from the US, Egypt, Israel and Qatar were expected to meet in Cairo to work on a three-phase outline that would achieve the release of hostages and an extended pause.

“The United States is working on a hostage agreement between Israel and Hamas that will bring immediate and sustained peace in Gaza for at least six weeks,” Biden told reporters at the White House after talks with Abdullah on Monday. “

war in israel and gaza

TOPSHOT - A Palestinian woman cries while inspecting a heavily damaged apartment following an Israeli bombardment of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on February 8, 2024, as the conflict between Israel and Hamas enters its fifth month.  (Photo by Saeed Khatib/AFP) (Photo by Saeed Khatib/AFP via Getty Images)

Saying he was working “day and night” on the issue, Biden said a six-week pause in hostilities would provide a foundation “to build something more permanent.”

For his part, Abdullah underlined the urgency of the plight of Palestinians, particularly the more than one million civilians taking refuge in the southern Gaza city of Rafah.

“We cannot stand by and let this continue,” he said. “We need a permanent ceasefire now. This war must end.”

Israel launched a rescue operation on Monday, freeing two Israeli-Argentine hostages held by Palestinian Hamas militants in Rafah, near the border with Egypt. The two men were among 250 people captured by Hamas during its October 7 attack on Israel, which started Israel’s war on Gaza.

Palestine TV, the Palestinian Authority’s official television station, said 74 people were killed during the Israeli military operation. There was no immediate confirmation from the Gaza health ministry, which is run by Hamas.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the successful mission showed that military pressure in Gaza should continue, and he dismissed international concerns over a planned ground assault on Rafah, where Israel says Hamas forces are present. .

America’s disappointment with Israel

Biden has shown growing resentment toward Netanyahu for not heeding his advice to reduce casualties in Gaza and do more to protect civilians.

Much of the densely populated area has been left in ruins after more than four months of war, which has left 28,340 Palestinians dead and 67,984 wounded, according to Gaza health officials. It is believed that many other people are also buried under the debris.

Biden has demanded that Israel not launch a ground offensive into Rafah without a plan to protect Palestinian civilians who are gathered there, many of whom live in makeshift tents after having relocated multiple times to escape the conflict in other parts of Gaza. Are.

Netanyahu last week ordered the military to prepare evacuation plans to protect civilians during a ground attack. Asked about the evacuation plan for civilians, an Israeli military spokesman said on Monday that he still did not know how it would be carried out.

The United Nations on Monday stepped up calls for a ceasefire and opposed the idea of ​​transferring civilians in Rafah. UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters, “We will not be party to the forced displacement of people. In any case, no place in Gaza is currently safe.”

“You can’t send people back to areas full of unexploded ordnance, let alone a lack of shelter,” he said.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell suggested on Monday that the way to reduce civilian casualties would be to halt arms supplies to Israel.

The United States is Israel’s most important foreign arms provider, providing $3.8 billion in military aid annually. The US State Department said the aid cuts would be “no more impactful than steps Washington has already taken”.

Netanyahu last week rejected Hamas’ latest proposal for a 4-1/2 month ceasefire, during which all hostages would be freed, Israel would withdraw its troops from Gaza and an agreement would be reached on an end to the war.

Hamas’ offer was a response to an earlier proposal drafted by US and Israeli spy chiefs and submitted to Hamas by Qatari and Egyptian mediators.

Asked about ceasefire talks, senior Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri said on Monday, “Hamas has shown great flexibility in the talks to end the aggression and exchange prisoners, but the occupation is still on hold.” And is disrespecting the efforts being made.”

(Reporting by Nidal al-Mughrabi in Doha, Trevor Honeycutt in Washington and Emily Rose and Reuters Bureau in Jerusalem; Writing by Cynthia Osterman; Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)

Copyright 2024 Thomson Reuters,


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