Some Gazans are calling on Hamas to accept the ceasefire proposal, but they remain sceptical

Some Palestinians in Gaza expressed hope that peace talks could advance after President Biden endorsed an Israeli road map to a permanent ceasefire and called on Hamas to accept the plan. But many remained skeptical that U.S. influence would help bring an immediate end to the war and their suffering.

After eight months of devastating bombing, many in Gaza believe Hamas should make any compromises necessary to end the war and allow reconstruction to begin.

“I hope Hamas accepts this deal,” said Ayman Skeik, a 31-year-old trader from Gaza City displaced in Deir al-Balah, central Gaza. “But I'm still afraid that it won't be reached.”

Declaring Hamas no longer capable of carrying out a major terrorist attack on Israel, President Biden said Friday that the time has come for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza and endorsed a new plan that he said Israel offered to achieve the release of hostages and work. towards the definitive end of the war and the reconstruction of Gaza.

Hamas said it would respond “positively” but kept Palestinians in suspense for days over whether a formal agreement would be reached. On Tuesday, Sami Abu Zuhri, a member of Hamas' political bureau, accused the Netanyahu government of not being serious about reaching an agreement. He said Biden was pressuring his group to accept the plan “despite the White House knowing the problem lies” in Israel.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – who remains under pressure from far-right members of his coalition opposed to the deal – has neither publicly accepted nor rejected the proposal, but insisted that Israel will not end the war without “destruction” of the country. Hamas's governmental and military capabilities.

Like many other Gazans, Skeik said he felt frustrated after several rounds of ceasefire negotiations failed in the past. Previous American, Qatari and Egyptian efforts to bring both sides to a deal have faltered, with Biden suggesting in February that a ceasefire was imminent, even as Hamas and Israel continued to remain distant.

“The United States used a strong word when it wanted to stop any crisis in the world,” he said. “But nowadays I see something different.”

The first phase of Biden's proposal called for both sides to observe a temporary six-week ceasefire while continuing to negotiate a permanent one. That frightened Mr. Skeik, who said that without an immediate permanent ceasefire, he was worried that fighting would continue after or even during the first phase.

“I want to go back to my old life,” he said from a bar where he can connect to the Internet. But Skeik was concerned that Hamas might use fussy language and drag out negotiations, which would further impede the possibility of his return home.

“We want Hamas to sign this agreement to maintain a long-term peace and ceasefire so that we and our children can live in peace and security,” said Anas al-Borno, a 36-year-old businessman from Gaza City who was displaced with his family in Deir al-Balah. But he was “still hopeless and pessimistic” that Israel and Hamas would both accept the deal, he added.

Some praised Biden for his speech last week, in which the president outlined the details of Israel's plan. It was an unusual move to speak on behalf of another country, and appeared to be a move to put further pressure on Netanyahu after months of American warnings.

“I think what Biden said on TV was a sudden change for me and for many other people,” said Ahmed al-Masri, a 21-year-old dental student from Gaza City. “The United States has recently chosen the path of surprises, so I hope this comes true and is real,” he added.

But others doubted it would mean much.

“The United States must impose solutions on all parties, not just propose and suggest ideas,” said Raed al-Kelani, 47, a civil servant from northern Gaza. He added that while he believed President Biden could pressure both Hamas and Netanyahu to accept the deal, he was “only 50% optimistic.”

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