Israeli airstrike on Gaza school kills at least 32: live updates

President Biden raised hopes last week when he endorsed a plan that he said could lead to a “permanent cessation of hostilities.” He said Israel had presented the plan, but neither Israel nor Hamas have definitively said they would accept or reject the proposal, and they still appear to disagree on fundamental issues.

Here’s a look at what is known about the ceasefire agreement, what key points still need to be negotiated and the obstacles that still lie ahead:

Israel and Hamas agreed to a ceasefire in November that lasted a week. But the proposal now on the table, as laid out by Biden, a senior U.S. administration official and Israeli officials, is more ambitious. Important questions remain unresolved, including whether Hamas will maintain control of the Gaza Strip.

The proposal would be developed in three phases.

In the first phase, among other things, Israel would withdraw from Gaza population centers during a six-week ceasefire, and dozens of women and elderly people held in Gaza by Hamas and its allies would be exchanged for hundreds of Palestinian detainees in Israel. prisons.

During that time, talks on a permanent ceasefire would continue and, if successful, the agreement would enter phase two, with the full withdrawal of the Israeli army from the enclave. All hostages and more Palestinian prisoners would be released. In phase three, Hamas would return the bodies of the hostages who had died and begin a three- to five-year reconstruction period, supported by the United States, European countries and international institutions.

Near a demonstration Wednesday in Tel Aviv in favor of the hostages kidnapped during the October 7 attack.Credit…Marko Djurica/Reuters

What are Israel’s concerns?

One of the key gaps between Hamas and Israel over the plan is the duration of the ceasefire and Hamas’s future role. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel said Monday that he was open to a six-week ceasefire, according to a person who attended a closed-door meeting he held with Israeli lawmakers. But he has publicly said that Israel will fight until Hamas’s military and governance capabilities are destroyed.

As the proposal has been presented, it appears that Hamas would hold talks during phases two and three with Israel, suggesting that it would maintain some control of Gaza. Netanyahu has repeatedly said this is a red line and has also ruled out a governing role for the Palestinian Authority, a fierce rival to Hamas that has limited governing powers in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

The Israeli prime minister faces competing pressures from the United States and other allies to end the war and, on the other hand, from two far-right partners in his governing coalition who have threatened to topple his government if Israel agrees to a deal. that would end the war without eliminating Hamas.

In a sign of that pressure, one of them, Israel’s far-right security minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir, said Wednesday that his party would continue to disrupt Netanyahu’s coalition until it released details of the proposal. Two Israeli officials confirmed this week that the offer shared by Biden generally aligned with the most recent ceasefire proposal Israel had put forward in talks brokered by Qatar and Egypt.

Palestinians fleeing Bureij in central Gaza on Wednesday.Credit…Mohammed Saber/EPA, via Shutterstock

What about Hamas?

Hamas has said it was responding “positively” to the plan, but at a news conference on Tuesday, Osama Hamdan, a Hamas spokesman, said Hamas had informed mediators that the group could not approve an agreement that did not provide for a settlement permanent. a ceasefire, a complete withdrawal of Israeli troops and a “serious and real agreement” to exchange Palestinian prisoners for hostages.

The same day, Sami Abu Zuhri, a member of Hamas’s political bureau, accused Israel of not taking a deal seriously and said the White House was pressuring Hamas despite “knowing that the problem lies” with the Israelis.

Many Gaza residents say they are desperate for an end to the war, but analysts say Hamas, an armed group, is not responding to the wishes of the enclave’s civilians. Political experts say the group’s leaders, including its top official in the territory, Yahya Sinwar, may be in no rush to end the conflict, partly sensing that Hamas’s influence will diminish once it agrees to release the hostages. .

Sinwar, the alleged mastermind of the Oct. 7 attack, has yet to weigh in on the proposal, a person briefed on the negotiations said.

Adam Rasgon contributed reports.

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