May 20, 2024

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A senior Qatari official urges Israel and Hamas to make more efforts to reach a ceasefire agreement

A senior Qatari official urges Israel and Hamas to make more efforts to reach a ceasefire agreement

TEL AVIV (Israel) – US President Joe Biden spoke again with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the White House said on Sunday. Pressure is increasing on Israel and Hamas To reach an agreement that would release some Israeli hostages and achieve a ceasefire within approximately seven months The war in Gaza.

The White House said that Biden reiterated his “clear position” as Israel plans to invade the city of Rafah in the far south of the Gaza Strip, despite global concern about more than a million Palestinians sheltering there. United State It opposes the invasion on humanitarian groundsWhich led to tense relations between the allies. Among the countries that US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken will visit is Israel Returns to the Middle East on monday.

Biden also stressed that progress in delivering humanitarian aid to Gaza must be “sustained and enhanced,” according to the statement. The call lasted just under an hour, and they agreed that the onus remained on Hamas to accept the final offer in the negotiations, according to a US official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to comment publicly. There was no comment from Netanyahu's office.

Senior official from Main broker QatarAt the same time, he urged Israel and Hamas to show “more commitment and more seriousness” in the negotiations. Qatar, which hosts Hamas's headquarters in Doha, played an active role alongside the United States and Egypt in helping to negotiate an agreement. A short pause in the fighting In November, which led to the release of dozens of hostages. But in a sign of frustration, Qatar announced this month that it had done so Re-evaluate its role.

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An Israeli delegation is expected to arrive in Egypt in the coming days to discuss the issue Latest proposals In the negotiations, senior Hamas official Bassem Naim said in a message to the Associated Press that a delegation from the armed group will also head to Cairo. The Egyptian state-owned satellite channel Cairo News reported that the delegation would arrive on Monday.

The statements of Qatari Foreign Ministry spokesman Majid Al-Ansari were published in interviews with the liberal daily newspaper Haaretz and the Israeli Kan public radio on Saturday evening.

Al-Ansari expressed his disappointment towards Hamas and Israel, saying that each side made its decisions based on political interests and not taking into account the interest of civilians. He did not reveal details about the talks except to say that they had “effectively stopped” and that “both sides are sticking to their positions.”

Al-Ansari's comments came after an Egyptian delegation discussed with Israeli officials a “new vision” for a long-term ceasefire in Gaza, according to an Egyptian official who spoke on condition of anonymity to freely discuss developments.

The Egyptian official said that Israeli officials are open to discussing reaching a permanent ceasefire in Gaza as part of the second phase of the deal. Israel has refused to end the war until it defeats Hamas.

The official added that the second phase will begin after the release of civilian hostages and patients and will include negotiating the release of soldiers. Senior Palestinian prisoners will be released and the reconstruction process will begin.

Negotiations earlier this month focused on six weeks Ceasefire proposal The release of 40 civilian hostages and patients held by Hamas in exchange for the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons.

People protest against the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and call for the release of hostages held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip in Tel Aviv, Israel, Saturday, April 27, 2024. (AP Photo/Ohad Zwigenberg)

A letter written by Biden and 17 other world leaders urged Hamas to immediately release its citizens. In recent days, Hamas has published new videos Three hostagesIn a clear attempt to push Israel to make concessions.

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The growing pressure on Hamas and Israel to reach a ceasefire agreement is also aimed at avoiding an Israeli attack on Rafah, the city on the border with Egypt where more than half of Gaza's 2.3 million people are seeking shelter. Israel mobilized dozens of tanks and armored vehicles. The planned incursion sparked global alarm.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas asserted during the opening session of the World Economic Forum in Saudi Arabia that “all it takes is just a small strike to force everyone to leave Palestine,” adding that he believes an invasion will happen within days.

But White House national security spokesman John Kirby told ABC that Israel “has assured us that they will not enter Rafah until we have the opportunity to share our views and concerns with them.” So, we'll see where it goes.”

Reinforcing Israeli forces may be a way to pressure Hamas in the talks. Israel considers Rafah the last major stronghold of Hamas. It pledges to destroy the group's military and governmental capabilities.

Aid groups have warned that an invasion of Rafah would worsen the already desperate humanitarian situation in Gaza. Hunger is widespread. About 400 tons of aid arrived on Sunday at the Israeli port of Ashdod – the largest shipment to date by sea via Cyprus – according to the United Arab Emirates. It was not immediately clear how and when it would be delivered to Gaza.

Also on Sunday, World Central Kitchen said it would resume operations in Gaza on Monday, ending a four-week suspension following Israeli military drones. Seven aid workers were killed. A statement said that the organization has 276 trucks ready to enter through the Rafah crossing and will also send trucks to Gaza from Jordan. It is also studying the possibility of using the port of Ashdod to unload supplies.

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The war was sparked by an October 7 Hamas attack on southern Israel, which killed 1,200 people, most of them civilians, according to Israeli authorities, who say another 250 people were taken hostage. Israeli authorities say Hamas and other groups are holding about 130 people, including the remains of about 30 people.

Israel's retaliatory attack on Hamas led to the killing of more than 34,000 people, most of them women and children, according to the health authorities in Gaza, which do not distinguish between civilians and combatants in their statistics.

The Israeli army holds Hamas responsible for civilian casualties, and accuses it of being present in residential and public areas. It says it killed at least 12,000 militants, without providing evidence.

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Jon Gambrell reported from Jerusalem and Sami Magdy reported from Cairo. Ellen Knickmeyer, Aamer Madhani and Matthew Lee contributed to this report from Washington.

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Follow AP's coverage of the war on https://apnews.com/hub/israel-hamas-war