White House confirms new temporary Gaza ceasefire proposal is 'on table'

Talks were expected to be held in Paris this week and attended by international mediators

Demonstrators call for a Gaza ceasefire in front of the White House. Reuters
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The White House on Wednesday said a new temporary ceasefire and hostage release proposal for Gaza is ready for consideration, and that Israel was fully behind it.

US National Security spokesman John Kirby said the administration of President Joe Biden was working to advance the deal.

“Another proposal now is on the table, a fresh one, and we are doing everything we can to see if we can get that advanced, because it could lead to the ceasefire in a temporary way that could also lead to something more sustained,” Mr Kirby told reporters.

“The Israelis are fully supportive of this fresh proposal, and as before, have been willing to deal in good faith on this."

The confirmation comes after reports last week that ceasefire negotiations were expected to resume in Paris, with mediators from Qatar and Egypt, as well as CIA director William Burns and a senior Israeli delegation.

The development also comes as Israel has intensified its operations in the southern Gazan city of Rafah, and said the war would continue for another seven months.

The Biden administration has for weeks said it does not support a ground operation in Rafah, and that attacking a densely populated area would lead to a change in US policy towards Israel.

More than one million Palestinians had been sheltering in Rafah, many in tents, after fleeing fighting elsewhere.

But so far, Washington has said that Israel's assault on Rafah does not amount to a major operation.

“The fighting Rafah could end tomorrow if Mr [Yahya] Sinwar did the right thing and agreed to this deal to a ceasefire to get the release of the hostages,” Mr Kirby said, referring to the Hamas chief.

Air strikes on displaced Palestinians in a camp in Rafah at the weekend killed about 45 people, causing a global outcry and calls on Israel to immediately halt.

Last week, the International Court of Justice ordered Israel to halt its attacks on the city, because of the “immense risk” to Palestinian civilians.

More than 36,100 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli strikes, according to local officials, since the Hamas-led October 7 attack on Israel that killed about 1,200 people.

The last round of negotiations aimed at securing a six-week ceasefire collapsed this month after Israel rejected Hamas’s demands for a full military withdrawal from Gaza and a permanent ceasefire.

The US, Egypt and Qatar have been trying to broker a ceasefire in the now nearly eight-month war since a brief pause in the fighting in December.

Updated: May 29, 2024, 9:44 PM