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Israel accepts US deal to end Gaza war 

One of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s aides has confirmed that Israel had accepted a framework deal put forward by US President Joe Biden to bring the Gaza war to an end.

On Friday, Biden outlined a three-phase plan submitted by the Netanyahu government to end the war. The first phase involves a truce and the return of some hostages held by Hamas, followed by negotiations on an open-ended cessation of hostilities in the second phase, during which the remaining hostages would be freed. 

This sequencing implies that Hamas would continue to play a role in incremental arrangements mediated by Egypt and Qatar, potentially clashing with Israel’s determination to resume the campaign to eliminate the Iranian-backed Islamist group.

In an interview with Britain’s Sunday Times, Ophir Falk, Netanyahu’s chief foreign policy advisor, said Biden’s proposal was “a deal we agreed to — it’s not a good deal but we dearly want the hostages released, all of them.”

“There are a lot of details to be worked out,” he added, noting that Israel’s conditions, including “the release of the hostages and the destruction of Hamas as a genocidal terrorist organisation,” have not changed.

The US State Department later announced that Secretary of State Antony Blinken had separate phone calls about the proposal with Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and Benny Gantz, a centrist minister who joined Netanyahu in an emergency coalition. 

In the call with Gantz, Blinken “emphasised that Hamas should take the deal without delay,” according to a State Department statement. In another statement, the department said Blinken “commended Israel’s readiness to conclude a deal”. 

Biden has praised several ceasefire proposals over the past several months, each with similar frameworks to the one he outlined on Friday, all of which collapsed. In February, he said Israel had agreed to halt fighting by Ramadan, the Muslim holy month that began on March 10, but the truce never happened. 

In his speech, Biden said his latest proposal “creates a better ‘day after’ in Gaza without Hamas in power,” but did not elaborate on how this would be achieved, acknowledging that “there are a number of details to negotiate to move from phase one to phase two.”

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