March 2, 2024

Israel ‘more or less’ approves cease-fire outline, US official says

Israel has essentially endorsed a framework of a proposed six-week cease-fire in Gaza, a US official told reporters on Saturday, adding that the deal had yet to be approved by the Hamas militants . Hamas is designated as a terrorist group by the US, Germany, Israel and the European Union, among other governments.

The senior official briefed reporters on condition of anonymity under ground rules set by the White House.

“The hostages have to be released,” the official told reporters. “The deal is basically there. But I don’t want to create expectations one way or the other.”

He said Israel had “more or less accepted” the six-week cease-fire proposal, which also involves the release of Israeli hostages who are considered vulnerable. Israel has yet to formally confirm the plan.

“Right now, the ball is in the court of Hamas, and we are continuing to push this as hard as we possibly can,” the official said.

Hamas officials arrived in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, on Saturday with cease-fire talks set to resume. The AP news agency cited a senior Egyptian official as saying mediators from Cairo and Doha expected to receive a response from Hamas during the talks.

Separately, a source close to Hamas  told the French AFP news agency that the militant group would deliver its “official answer” to the plan, which resulted from talks with Israeli negotiators in Paris late last month. 

Mediators have been pushing for a cease-fire ahead of Ramadan, the Muslim fasting month, which begins in the evening of March 10. The death toll in Gaza has exceeded 30,000 Palestinians, mostly women and children.


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