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Hamas Approves U.S.-Backed Ceasefire Deal but Netanyahu Can Still Block It

Hamas has approved a U.S.-backed ceasefire deal with Israel, dropping a key demand that Israel commit, up front, to not resuming the war on Gaza. A Hamas official and an Egyptian official, both unnamed, told AP today that Washington’s phased deal would start with a “full and complete” six-week cease-fire, during which older, sick and female hostages would be released in exchange for hundreds of Palestinian prisoners. During those 42 days, Israeli forces would withdraw from densely-populated areas of Gaza and allow the return of displaced people to their homes in northern Gaza, the officials said.

Over that period, Hamas, Israel and mediators would negotiate the terms of the second phase which could see the release of the remaining male hostages, both civilians and soldiers, the officials said. In return, Israel would free additional Palestinian prisoners and detainees. The third phase would include the return of any remaining hostages, including bodies of the dead, and the start of a years-long reconstruction project.

The Hamas representative told The Associated Press that the group’s approval came after it received “verbal commitments and guarantees” from the mediators that the war won’t be resumed and that negotiations will continue until a permanent cease-fire is reached. “Now we want these guarantees on paper,” the representative said.

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