Egypt’s peace proposal for Hamas to give up power in the Gaza Strip in exchange for a permanent end of hostilities in the region has been met with a cool reception from both sides.
A senior Egyptian official and a European diplomat familiar with the proposal told The Associated Press that the plan would call for a phased release of the remaining Israeli hostages in Gaza and the creation of a Palestinian government of experts to oversee Gaza and the West Bank.
The Egyptian official said Egypt worked on the details of the plan with Qatar and presented it to Israel, Hamas, the United States and multiple European countries.
But Israel and Hamas both did not seem enthusiastic to accept the plan, although neither directly rejected it entirely.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told members of his Likud Party that he is focused on Israel continuing with its offensive to remove Hamas from power in Gaza, saying the fight will be expanding in the coming days.
Netanyahu also said the battle will be long and the fight “isn’t close to finished.”
Hamas has not officially responded to the proposal, but top official Izzat Rishq said in a statement that it will not negotiate without a “complete end to the aggression.”
“Our people want to stop the aggression, and are not waiting for a temporary or partial truce for a short period of time that will be followed by more aggression and terrorism,” Rishq said.
Two Egyptian security sources told Reuters that Hamas and Islamic Jihad, another Palestinian militant group in Gaza, have rejected the proposal, but officials from both groups denied to the outlet what the sources said.
The proposal comes as pressure has risen on Israel over how it is conducting the offensive in Gaza with the death toll surpassing 20,000, according to Palestinian health officials. At least 68 people were killed in a recent Israeli strike in central Gaza.
President Biden has increased his criticism of Israel’s approach somewhat in recent weeks as the war has continued and casualties mount.
The war has raged for more than two and a half months since Hamas, which is recognized as a terrorist organization by the United States, European Union and several other countries, launched an attack on Israel on Oct. 7. The attack claimed the lives of 1,200 people, and more than 200 in the country were taken as hostages in Gaza.
Netanyahu visited Israeli forces in Gaza on Monday and vowed to continue the fight until victory is achieved.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
This story was updated at 3:44 p.m.
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