'It's time for this war to end': Biden sets out Israeli ceasefire and hostage release proposal

President Biden announced the details of the proposal

US President Joe Biden has announced an Israeli proposal to release hostages from Gaza and end the ongoing war.

The three-phase deal has been proposed by Israel to Hamas, and would last for six weeks.

It would involve a full ceasefire, withdrawal of Israeli troops from parts of Gaza and an exchange of Israeli hostages for Palestinian prisoners.

Biden said Hamas is "no longer capable” of carrying out another large-scale attack on Israel, as he urged Israelis and Hamas to come to a deal.

He said: "Everyone who wants peace now must raise their voices and work to make it real. It's time for this war to end."

ITV News' Senior International Correspondent John Irvine explains the significance of the new proposals outlined by Biden

Rishi Sunak said he hopes Hamas will accept the new ceasefire deal. Speaking during a General Election campaign stop in Redcar on Saturday, the Prime Minister told broadcasters: "It’s very welcome news and I hope Hamas take this opportunity to conclude the deal that’s on the table, which will ensure that the hostages can be released and be back with their families, that we can flood Gaza with far more aid than we’ve been getting in."

He said that pause should be turned into "sustainable and lasting peace, which is what we all want to see".

Phase one would see a complete ceasefire, with Israeli troops leaving the most populated areas in Gaza.

A number of hostages would be released, including women, the elderly and the wounded, in exchange for the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners.

Following Biden's speech, hostage families said time was running out. “This might be the last chance to save lives," Gili Roman said.

His sister, Yarden Roman-Gat, was taken hostage and freed during a weeklong ceasefire in November, but Yarden’s sister-in-law, Carmel, is still held.

Mr Roman added: “There is no other way towards a better situation for all. Our leadership must not disappoint us. But mostly, all eyes should be on Hamas.”

The first stage would also involve a surge in humanitarian aid, with 600 trucks being allowed into Gaza each day.

During phase two, all remaining living hostages would be released, including male soldiers, and Israeli forces would completely withdraw from Gaza.

Phase three would call for a major reconstruction of Gaza from the devastation and rubble of almost eight months of war.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said he authorised the country's hostage negotiating team to find a way to release those still in Gaza.

But Israel maintains it will not consider the war to have ended until "all of its goals are achieved, including the return of all our abductees and the elimination of Hamas’ military and governmental capabilities.”

Hamas said in a statement it viewed the new proposal "positively".

President Joe Biden made the announcement from the White House on Friday. Credit: AP

The group called on Israel to declare explicitly commit to a permanent ceasefire, a complete withdrawal of Israeli troops from Gaza, and a prisoner exchange.

Biden's announcement follows confirmation from the Israeli military that forces are now operating in central parts of Rafah.

Washington has refused to provide offensive arms for such an attack on Rafah, but so far, it has not tried to stop Israel's advances.

Last week, the International Court of Justice ordered Israel to halt its Rafah offensive as part of South Africa’s case accusing Israel of committing genocide against the Palestinians in Gaza - a charge Israel denies.

Israel says it must dismantle Hamas' last remaining battalions in Rafah and wants indefinite security control over the Gaza Strip, even after the war ends.

It has not yet achieved its main goals of dismantling Hamas and returning hostages captured during the October 7 attack, which killed some 1,200 people, most of them civilians, and led to around 250 others being taken captive.

Israel’s offensive in response to the attack has killed more than 36,000 Palestinians, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry, which does not distinguish between fighters and civilians. Israel says it has killed 15,000 militants.

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