Blinken Says Haggling Must Stop After Hamas Requests Changes to Gaza Cease-Fire Framework

Negotiations continue as the secretary of state presses Hamas to accept a three-part proposal to bring a halt to hostilities in the Gaza Strip.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken shared his frustration on June 12 over changes that Hamas has requested to a new cease-fire proposal to bring the war in the Gaza Strip to a close.

Mr. Blinken, along with other members of President Joe Biden’s administration, have pressed for Hamas—which is designated a terrorist group by both the United States and Israel—to accept the three-part proposal to bring a cessation of hostilities after more than eight months of fighting in the Gaza Strip.

Speaking at a news conference in Doha, Qatar, alongside Qatari Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, Mr. Blinken said that the Biden administration had received Hamas’s response to the cease-fire proposal on June 11 and noted that its response included several changes to the peace terms.

“Hamas has proposed numerous changes to the proposal that was on the table. We discussed those changes last night with Egyptian colleagues and today with the prime minister,” Mr. Blinken said. “Some of the changes are workable; some are not.”

Mr. Blinken insisted the cease-fire proposal was nearly identical to terms that Hamas itself had supported as recently as May 6.

“Hamas could have answered with a single word: yes. Instead, Hamas waited nearly two weeks and then proposed more changes, a number of which go beyond positions it had previously taken and accepted,” Mr. Blinken continued, adding that the changes mean the fighting in the Gaza Strip will continue for the time being.

Related Stories

Blinken Announces $400 Million in Aid to Gaza, Urges Allies to Expand Efforts
Pentagon Says Gaza Pier Was Not Used in Israel’s Hostage Rescue Operation

Despite the apparent new wrinkles in the negotiations, Mr. Blinken said the Biden administration, along with its counterparts in Qatar and Egypt, will keep working “on an urgent basis” to finalize a cease-fire plan.

A reporter asked during the news conference whether the changes Hamas had requested for the cease-fire plan constituted an outright rejection of the proposal. In his response, Mr. Blinken didn’t directly call the Hamas response a rejection but said, “At some point in a negotiation … you get to a point where if one side continues to change its demands, including making demands and insisting on changes for things that it already accepted, you have to question whether they’re proceeding in good faith or not.”

The secretary of state again said some of the changes Hamas had requested were workable, but said it’s time “for the haggling to stop and a cease-fire to start.”

Mr. Blinken didn’t directly answer questions during the news conference about the specific changes Hamas had requested to the proposal.

“I’m not going to, obviously, characterize or describe what they’re looking for,” he said. “All I can tell you, having gone over this with our colleagues, is that we believe that some of the requested changes are workable and some are not.”

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan also faced questions about the Hamas-requested changes to the cease-fire proposal during a press engagement aboard Air Force One on June 12. He was asked about claims that Hamas is specifically seeking a written U.S. assurance of a permanent cease-fire.

“I have not heard that specific Hamas request today. Obviously, this is a fast-moving situation. And also, there’s a lot of different Hamas voices. So, we’ll await consultation with Egypt and Qatar, who speak through an authoritative channel with Hamas,” Mr. Sullivan said.

He declined to respond to other questions about the specific changes Hamas negotiators had requested but insisted President Biden had anticipated some back-and-forth haggling when he first announced the cease-fire plan last month.

“I would point out that, in his remarks on May 31st, the president anticipated that Hamas would come back, they would suggest some changes, and that the important thing was that all parties sit at the table until—the proverbial table here—until we get to an agreement, ” Mr. Sullivan said. “That’s what we’re reinforcing today.”

Original News Source Link – Epoch Times

Running For Office? Conservative Campaign Consulting – Election Day Strategies!