TEL AVIV, Israel – U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken made efforts to negotiate a ceasefire and hostage-release agreement between Israel and Hamas. The two sides remain far apart on key terms for a deal. Israel’s war against Hamas has lasted nearly five months, leading to the killing of over 27,000 Palestinians, displacement of much of the territory’s population, and a severe humanitarian crisis.
Conversely, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected a detailed, three-phase plan proposed by Hamas, calling it “delusional.” The plan aimed to secure the release of hostages in exchange for the release of Palestinian prisoners, including senior militants, and an end to the war. Netanyahu emphasized a commitment to military pressure in order to secure the release of the approximately 100 hostages held in the Gaza Strip.
Despite the disagreements, Blinken sees potential for an agreement to be reached and is relentlessly working towards that goal. He aims to advance the cease-fire talks while also advocating for a larger postwar settlement that includes Saudi Arabia normalizing relations with Israel in return for a clear, credible, time-bound path to the establishment of a Palestinian state.
Hamas has outlined its terms for a hostage deal in response to a proposal drawn up by the United States, Israel, Qatar, and Egypt. The plan entails a phased approach, including the release of hostages and prisoners, withdrawal of Israeli forces from certain areas, and the exchange of remains.
Netanyahu has rejected Hamas’ demands, insisting that they would lead to a disaster for Israel. He expressed confidence in the military’s progress and stated that victory was “a matter of months” away.
In the midst of the negotiations, Gaza continues to experience severe misery, characterized by widespread destruction, a lack of basic necessities such as water and food, and a significant civilian death toll.
The ongoing violence in Gaza has prompted the attention of the United Nations’ top court, which issued an order for Israel to take all possible measures to prevent death, destruction, and acts of genocide in the region.
As efforts for a ceasefire and hostage-release agreement continue, Blinken and other international stakeholders are dedicated to pursuing a resolution to the conflict in the region.