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Israel provides new ‘roadmap’ to finish Gaza struggle, says Biden

US President Joe Biden said Friday that Israel had offered a new roadmap towards a permanent peace in Gaza, urging Hamas to accept the surprise deal as it was “time for this war to end.”

In his first major address outlining a solution to the eight-month conflict, Biden said the proposal started with a six-week phase that would see Israeli forces withdraw from all populated areas of Gaza.

“It’s time for this war to end, for the day after to begin,” Biden said in a televised address from the White House, adding that “we can’t lose this moment” to seize the chance for peace.

“Israel has offered a comprehensive new proposal. It’s a roadmap to an enduring ceasefire and the release of all hostages,” he said.

The 81-year-old Democrat put particular pressure on the Palestinian militant group Hamas, whose attack on key US ally Israel on October 7 last year trigged the grinding conflict in Gaza.

“Hamas needs to take the deal,” said Biden, who has supported Israel with military aid since the conflict began.

Biden said the first six-week phase would include a “full and complete ceasefire, withdrawal of Israeli forces from all populated areas of Gaza, release of a number of hostages, including women, the elderly, the wounded, in exchange for release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners.”

Israel and the Palestinians would then negotiate during those six weeks for a lasting ceasefire — but the truce would continue if the talks remained underway, Biden said.

“As long as Hamas lives up to its commitments, a temporary ceasefire would become, in the words of the Israeli proposal, the cessation of hostilities permanently,” added Biden.

– ‘Sheer hell’ –

Biden’s announcement of the proposal comes after repeated attempts to end the war have stalled.

Hamas insists that any ceasefire should be permanent.

The group said earlier Friday it had informed mediators it would only agree a “comprehensive” truce agreement including a hostage-prisoner swap if Israel halts its “aggression.”

Ismail Haniyeh, the head of Hamas’s Qatar-based political office, reiterated that the group’s core demands — including a permanent ceasefire and full Israeli withdrawal — “are non-negotiable.”

But Israel says it will only agree to a temporary truce of around six weeks and that it maintains its aim of destroying the Palestinian Islamist group.

Biden did not significantly address Israel’s assault on the southern Gaza city of Rafah, into whose central area the Israeli army said Friday its troops had pushed into despite international objections.

He acknowledged however that Palestinians were enduring “sheer hell.”

The US president has been under growing pressure over his support for Israel since a deadly strike on Rafah set ablaze a crowded camp on Sunday. Gaza officials said 45 people were killed and about 250 wounded.

The White House however said this week that while the Israeli strike was “devastating,” it did not breach Biden’s red lines for withholding weapons deliveries to the key US ally.


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