US says response from Hamas on ceasefire proposal still awaited

By Thomson Reuters Jun 4, 2024 | 8:11 PM

By Steve Holland and Kanishka Singh

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A response from Palestinian Islamist group Hamas on Israel’s ceasefire proposal that U.S. President Joe Biden revealed on Friday is still being awaited, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters on Tuesday.

“We are waiting for a response from Hamas” through the Qatari mediators, Sullivan said.

CIA Director Bill Burns will be in Doha to consult with Qatari mediators on the Gaza ceasefire proposal, Sullivan added. Qatar has been mediating on Gaza between Israel and Hamas.

Qatar said on Tuesday it had delivered the Israeli ceasefire proposal to Hamas that reflected a three-phase proposal presented by Biden, and that the paper was now much closer to the positions of both sides.

A spokesman for Hamas, which has ruled Gaza since 2007, reiterated on Tuesday it could not agree to any deal unless Israel makes a “clear” commitment to a permanent truce and complete withdrawal from Gaza.

For his part, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has also repeated that there can be no permanent peace unless Hamas is eradicated, as he struggles with profound political divisions at home over the U.S.-backed truce proposal.

Israel’s assault on Gaza has killed more than 36,000, according to the local health ministry, caused widespread hunger, flattened most of the enclave and led to genocide allegations that Israel denies.

The Israeli onslaught followed an attack on Israel by Hamas on Oct. 7 that killed 1,200 with 250 people also taken as hostages, according to Israeli tallies.

(Reporting by Kanishka Singh, Steve Holland and Eric Beech in Washington; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman and Michael Perry)