'It’s time for the haggling to stop': Blinken says US still pushing for Gaza truce deal

The US hopes the deal will bring “an enduring end” to the war but the development casts further doubt on how quickly it will be secured. Credit: AP

Hamas has submitted “numerous changes” to a US-backed proposal for a ceasefire and release of hostages in Gaza, causing frustration for US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

The US hopes the deal will bring “an enduring end” to the war but the development casts further doubt on how quickly it will be secured.

“Some of the changes are workable. Some are not,” Mr Blinken said at a press conference in Doha, describing some of those changes as going “beyond positions (Hamas) had previously taken".

Mr Blinken did not go as far as to describe the response by Hamas as a rejection of the proposal, and said he believed that the “gaps” are “bridgeable.”

However, the top US diplomat made clear his exasperation at both the changes Hamas proposed and the length of time it took to reply – 12 days.

He did not go into specific details about the changes, but he continued to cast exclusive blame for the stalling of the deal – and the prolonging of the suffering of the Palestinians in Gaza – on the terrorist group, not on Israel.

“Israel accepted the proposal as it was,” he reiterated, despite repeated public statements from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seeming to cast doubt on his approval of the proposal.

“At some point in a negotiation – and this has gone back and forth for a long time – 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 had already accepted, you have to question whether they’re proceeding in good faith or not,” Blinken said in reference to Hamas.

“It’s time for the haggling to stop and a ceasefire to start. It’s as simple as that,” he said.

Blinken’s trip to Egypt, Israel, Jordan and Qatar also focused on developing plans for when a ceasefire is put into place.

“In the coming weeks, we will put forward proposals for key elements of the ‘day after’ plan, including concrete ideas for how to manage governance, security, reconstruction,” the top US diplomat said, without providing further details.

The fighting in Gaza has claimed the lives of more than 37,200 Palestinians, according to the Gaza Health Ministry, and left the strip in what aid officials have described as an “unprecedented” humanitarian catastrophe.

“In the days ahead, we are going to continue to push on an urgent basis with our partners, with Qatar, with Egypt, to try to close this deal,” Blinken.

Leaders of the United States, Canada, Germany, France, Italy, Canada and Britain will be meeting in Italy on Thursday for the G7 summit where it's likely the conflict will be discussed.

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