Blinken Proposes Temporary Gaza Ceasefire In Return For Hostage Release

High-ranking officials in the Biden administration are making another push for a temporary ceasefire to the fighting between Israel and Hamas, as the war between the two approaches its seventh month.

On Monday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke in Saudi Arabia. He said that the terrorist organization Hamas should accept what he called an “extraordinarily generous” proposal that’s been put forth by Israel.

That proposal includes Israel agreeing to the temporary ceasefire once Hamas releases any of the remaining Israeli hostages that the group still has in captivity in Gaza.

Biden administration officials haven’t revealed many of the specifics of that proposal just yet. But, one senior official in the administration told reporters late last week that is a “structured” and “phased” return of Palestinian people to the northern regions of Gaza.

Many people who once lived in that region were forced to evacuate south as Israeli forces entered the enclave to root out all traces of Hamas.

As Blinken said Monday:

“In this moment, the only thing standing between the people of Gaza and a ceasefire is Hamas. They have to decide, and they have to decide quickly. I’m hopeful that they will make the right decision.”

Just recently, officials with Hamas were in Egypt’s capital of Cairo to talk with officials with the governments of Qatar and Egypt. Both of those countries have been serving as moderators in the ceasefire negotiations.

Media reports from state-run organizations have said that Hamas officials are expected to return soon with a written response to Israel’s proposal. It’s not clear when that might happen, though.

On Monday, President Joe Biden called on the leaders from both Israel and Hamas to discuss the negotiations further so that progress can be made.

It’s possible that a window for a deal to be struck might be short. Israel has been threatening an all-out attack on the southern Gaza city of Rafah, but have been convinced to hold off on it for the time being.

There are more than 1 million Palestianians who are estimated to be in the city seeking shelter there after being evacuated from other parts of the enclave.

The White House has expressed optimism for a deal in the past, but those chances have thus far collapsed.

On Monday, the foreign minister of Egypt, Sameh Shoukry, said he was “hopeful” regarding the latest proposal for a ceasefire, but he didn’t provide any further details about what the proposal included or who put it forth.

Israel has for months demanded that Hamas release 40 hostages at least if a new truce is to be secured. Recent reports have suggested that Israel might be willing to settle for 33 hostages being released, because Israel believes that some of the women, children and elderly people might have died while in captivity.

A ceasefire would certainly be a welcomed development by the Biden administration, which has been struggling with the ongoing war abroad. Student protests have raged the last week or so at college campuses across the country, so a ceasefire might do well to quell those.