Here are the gaps between Israel and Hamas on the latest ceasefire proposal

Israeli officials said on Tuesday that major gaps remain with Hamas over the latest ceasefire proposal in Gaza, as delegations from both sides arrived in Cairo to resume talks.

Hamas said on Monday it had accepted the terms of the ceasefire proposed by Arab mediators, and U.S. officials said they had made minor drafting changes from the proposal that Israel and the United States had recently presented to the group.

But Israeli officials have disputed this characterization, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying on Tuesday that his war cabinet unanimously believed that the proposal accepted by Hamas was “very far from Israel's fundamental demands.”

The text of the revised proposal was circulating in Israeli media on Tuesday and was confirmed as authentic by a senior Hamas official. A person briefed on the negotiations also described differences in the two sides' positions. Here are the key ones:

The most substantial sticking point centers on a key phrase that appears in both the proposals approved by Israel and Hamas: a path to “sustainable calm.”

In the proposal approved by Israel and forwarded by Egypt to the Hamas leadership on April 26, the two sides will work to achieve a “sustainable calm” in Gaza after an initial six-week lull in fighting. That proposal left those two words open to interpretation.

But in the proposal approved by Hamas, that term is clearly defined as a permanent cessation of hostilities and a complete withdrawal of Israeli troops from the Gaza Strip.

Israel has consistently opposed any agreement that explicitly calls for a permanent ceasefire or an end to the war, and has said it will not accept either until it deems its military offensive has achieved its objectives. Ehud Yaari, an Israel-based researcher at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said Hamas' timetable would commit Israel to ending the war while Hamas still holds hostages, leaving Israel without any leverage.

Israel might have been willing to discuss ending the war at a later stage in the process, but experts say it did not commit to doing so from the start.

“If you sign the agreement you will commit to keeping all of it,” Yaari said.

The first phase of a three-phase agreement would include a six-week pause in fighting, during which Israel would exchange hundreds of Palestinian prisoners and detainees in Israeli prisons for 33 of the most vulnerable hostages held in Gaza. These are all women, including female soldiers, as well as elderly men, the sick and the wounded. Israel had lowered its initial demand for about 40 hostages in that category because it had come to believe that only 33 remained alive, out of a total of 132 hostages still held in Gaza.

But Hamas informed negotiators on Monday that not all of the 33 freed in the first phase were still alive and that the remains of those who died would be among those released – a revelation that surprised the Israelis.

Additionally, Hamas has suggested a framework that would lengthen the release of hostages by releasing three on the third day after the break began, and three more every seven days thereafter. An earlier proposal called for the release of three hostages every three days.

Prolonging the releases, analysts say, would mean that negotiations on the second phase of the deal – reaching a “sustainable calm” – would take place while Hamas would have more bargaining chips. And the Israelis also fear that engaging in this situation would increase the possibility that more sicker hostages could die before being released.

The proposal accepted by Israel in April allowed it to veto the release of some Palestinian prisoners sentenced to life in prison – those expected to be exchanged for Israeli soldiers held hostage – from a list of 200 names. The proposal approved by Hamas eliminated any right of refusal on Israel's part.

The Israeli government largely interpreted the start of the ground operation in Rafah as a means to pressure the group to soften its negotiating position. Hamas called the Israeli operation a “dangerous escalation” intended to “disrupt efforts to mediate a ceasefire and the release of prisoners.”

However, when both sides sent delegations to Cairo for cease-fire talks on Tuesday, White House spokesman John F. Kirby said, “there should be no reason why they cannot overcome the remaining gaps.”

Julian E. Barnes, Adam Rasgon, Gabby Sobelmann AND Myra Novec contributed to the reporting.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *