Hamas outlines key demands to allow for Gaza ceasefire

According to Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), the success of indirect ceasefire negotiations with Israel depends on four basic demands, they said on March 29th — including the return of the hundreds of thousands of displaced people to the northern Gaza Strip, according to the New Arab and agencies

The meeting took place in the Iranian capital Tehran between chairman of Hamas’s political bureau Ismail Haniyeh and PIJ Secretary-General Ziyad al-Nakhalah.

Hamas outlined their four demands in a statement on their Telegram account, calling for “a complete halt to the (Israeli) aggression, a full withdrawal of the occupation from all of the Gaza Strip, the freedom of return for the displaced (to the north), and the entry of aid to meet the needs of our people in the Strip,” they said. Once their four demands were met, they would release Israeli captives held in Gaza as part of a prisoner exchange deal, they added. 

READ: Arab League calls for Gaza ceasefire to be upheld

On February 17th, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu prematurely ended truce talks between Israel and Hamas, snubbing the request of US President Joe Biden and referring to the group’s demands as “delusional.” 

Netanyahu similarly pulled the Israeli team from negotiations in Doha on March 26th, though he did authorise Israeli negotiators to resume indirect peace talks with Hamas in Doha and Cairo.

This followed Hamas’s statement on March 23rd that they would reject any proposed deal that did not include a complete withdrawal of the Israeli army from Gaza and the return of the displaced population. 

Israel and the US have both supported visions of postwar Gaza without Hamas remaining in power. Yet in a shared statement Hamas and the PIJ said they “rejected any political projects or steps that would create new realities in Gaza far from the will of our people and its resistance.” “Any step must be the result of full national consensus,” they added.

READ: Qatar leader in talks with Hamas over Gaza ceasefire

Both Gaza-based groups also took aim at the United States and Israel’s other allies: “Continuing military support for Israel and providing political cover for its crimes is complicity in the ongoing crime in Gaza,” they said.

On March 20th, the US circulated a UN Security Council draft calling for an immediate Gaza ceasefire. “Of course, we stand with Israel and its right to defend itself,” said US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, “but at the same time, it’s imperative that the civilians who are in harm’s way and who are suffering so terribly — that we focus on them, that we make them a priority, protecting the civilians, getting them humanitarian assistance.”

Israel has continued its war on Gaza despite the UN Security Council resolution from March 25th. The resolution — supported by Hamas — “demands an immediate ceasefire for the month of Ramadan respected by all parties leading to a lasting sustainable ceasefire.” 

The New Arab and agencies

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