The plan emerges against the backdrop of Israel increasing its attacks on southern Gaza and mounting pressure on the Israeli government to ensure the safe return of captives.
Israel has readied a proposal for a two-month ceasefire with Hamas in Gaza, aimed primarily at securing the release of captives held by the group.
This proposition, however, does not extend to ending the ongoing genocide the occupying state is committing in the enclave.
Reports from both U.S. and Israeli media late on Monday indicate that Tel Aviv is hopeful of reaching an agreement, with the assistance of the United States.
This plan emerges against the backdrop of Israel increasing its attacks on southern Gaza and mounting pressure on the Israeli government to ensure the safe return of captives.
Israeli officials have communicated this proposal to Hamas through Qatari and Egyptian mediators.
The proposal entails a phased agreement, potentially spanning two months, during which all hostages held in Gaza would be released. This offer marks Israel’s longest ceasefire proposition to Hamas since the war’s inception.
As it stands, over 130 hostages remain in Gaza, with several believed to have died in Israeli strikes since October 7.
Brett McGurk, President Biden’s adviser, visited Egypt on Sunday and is set to come to Qatar, aiming to advance negotiations.
U.S. officials have indicated that they believe such an agreement may be the sole pathway to a ceasefire in Gaza, as thousands continue to take to the streets in multiple American states demanding a permanent ceasefire.
Details of the proposal
Two Israeli officials revealed that the Israeli war cabinet had, ten days ago, approved the new proposal parameters, according to Axios.
The proposal stipulates the release of all surviving hostages and the return of deceased captives’ bodies in several stages. The initial phase would involve the release of women, men over 60, and critically ill hostages. Subsequent phases would focus on female soldiers, non-soldier males under 60, Israeli male soldiers, and the bodies of hostages.
Israel’s proposal includes a detailed plan for the redeployment of the Israeli Defence Forces, reducing their presence in main population centres within the enclave and facilitating the gradual return of Palestinian civilians to Gaza City and northern Gaza Strip as the deal progresses.
Amidst growing public discontent, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is facing increasing pressure to resolve the hostage crisis.
Despite his calls for a “complete victory” over Hamas, Netanyahu acknowledges that this objective remains distant. He has also rejected Hamas’s conditions for ceasing hostilities and releasing captives, dismissing them as “terms of surrender.”
John Kirby, the White House National Security Council spokesperson, affirmed on Monday that President Biden supports a pause in fighting to facilitate hostage release and enhance humanitarian aid access to Gaza.
Israeli officials say they are prepared to release a significant number of Palestinian prisoners if Hamas accepts the offer, which would result in a considerable reduction in IDF operations in Gaza following the proposed two-month fighting pause.
Concurrently, Israel has suggested that Hamas senior leaders might leave Gaza as part of a broader ceasefire agreement. Despite the prolonged assault on Gaza, Israel has not managed to significantly weaken Hamas’s leadership or fighting force.
The intensifying attacks on southern Gaza resulted in numerous civilian casualties. The Palestine Red Crescent Society reported that its headquarters in Khan Younis had been shelled early on Tuesday.
UN agencies and aid groups are raising concerns about the escalating risks of disease and famine in Gaza, where an estimated 1.7 million people have been displaced.