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Egypt floats ambitious plan to end Israel-Hamas war

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25 December 2023, Canberra Times / AAP, by Samy Magdy, Najib Jobain, Melanie Lidman

Egypt has put forward an ambitious, initial proposal to end the Israel-Hamas war with a ceasefire, a phased hostage release and the creation of a Palestinian government of experts.

Some details of the plan were revealed by a senior Egyptian official and a European diplomat on Monday.

The proposal, worked out with the Gulf nation of Qatar, has been presented to Israel, Hamas, the United States and European governments but still appears preliminary.

It falls short of Israel’s professed goal of outright crushing Hamas and would appear not to meet its insistence on keeping military control over Gaza for an extended period after the war.

Israel’s War Cabinet, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, will meet later on Monday to discuss the hostage situation, among other topics, an Israeli official said, but would not say if they would discuss the Egyptian proposal.

Word of the proposal comes after three bloody days across Gaza before Christmas Day in which Israeli airstrikes killed dozens of Palestinians at a time and 17 troops were killed in ground fighting in the north, centre and south of the territory.

The war has devastated large parts of Gaza and has killed more than 20,400, according to Palestinian officials.

It was sparked after Hamas-led militants stormed communities in southern Israel on October 7, killing 1200 and taking 240 hostage.

The Egyptian proposal calls for an initial ceasefire of up to two weeks during which Palestinian militants would free 40 to 50 hostages, among them women, the sick and the elderly, in return for the release of 120-150 Palestinians from Israeli prisons, the Egyptian official said.

At the same time, negotiations would continue on extending the ceasefire and the release of more hostages and bodies held by Palestinian militants, he said.

Egypt and Qatar would also work with all Palestinian factions, including Hamas, to agree on the establishment of a government of experts.

The government would rule Gaza and the West Bank for a transitional period as Palestinian factions settle their disputes and agree on a roadmap to hold presidential and parliamentary elections.

In the meantime, Israel and Hamas would continue to negotiate a comprehensive “all-for-all” deal.

This would include the release of all remaining hostages in return for all Palestinian prisoners in Israel, as well as the Israeli military’s withdrawal from Gaza and the Palestinian militants’ halting of rocket attacks into Israel.

Egyptian officials discussed the outline of the proposal with Ismail Haniyeh, the Qatar-based political leader of Hamas, who visited Cairo last week.

They plan to discuss it with the leader of the Islamic Jihad group, Ziyad al-Nakhalah, who arrived in Cairo on Sunday, the official said.

A Western diplomat said they were aware of Egypt’s proposal but doubted that Netanyahu and his government would accept it in its entirety.

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Article source: Canberra Times / AAP | Samy Magdy, Najib Jobain, Melanie Lidman | December 25 2023

2024-05-08 07:04:10.000000