STORY: Hamas said on Tuesday it had received and was studying a new proposal for a ceasefire and the release of hostages in Gaza.
Mediators provided the proposal to Hamas after talks with Israel in what appeared to be the most serious peace initiative for months.
A senior Hamas official told Reuters the proposal involved a three-stage truce, during which the group would first release remaining civilians among hostages it captured on Oct. 7, then soldiers, and finally the bodies of hostages that were killed.
The ceasefire proposal followed talks in Paris involving intelligence chiefs from Israel, the United States and Egypt, with the prime minister of Qatar.
In a mark of the seriousness of the negotiations, Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh said he was going to Cairo to discuss it, his first public trip there for more than a month.
But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu repeated his vow not to pull troops out of Gaza until “total victory,”
“I hear sayings about all kinds of (hostage) deals so I want to clarify – we will not end this war short of achieving all of its objectives. That means eliminating Hamas, returning all of our hostages and ensuring that Gaza will no longer pose a threat to Israel.”
Hamas, whose fighters precipitated the war by storming into Israeli towns on Oct. 7 killing 1,200 people and capturing 253 hostages, says it will release its remaining captives only as part of a wider deal to end the war permanently.
Israel has killed more than 26,000 Palestinians so far in the war and more than 2 million people in the enclave have been displaced.
The fighting in Gaza has led to escalation elsewhere across the Middle East, including attacks on U.S. forces by armed groups allied to Iran.
U.S. President Joe Biden said on Tuesday he had made up his mind on how to respond to a drone attack that killed U.S. service members in Jordan without elaborating.
But he echoed comments from other U.S. officials, who said the United States does not want a war with Iran.
“I don’t think we need a wider war in the Middle East. That’s not what I’m looking for.”