New ceasefire offers prisoner swap and ‘conditional’ return of Palestinians

A new proposal for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in Gaza is reported to include a prisoner swap and the "conditional" return of displaced Palestinians to the northern territories.

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An anonymous Palestinian source briefed on the indirect negotiations between Israel and Hamas in the Egyptian capital Cairo.

The source said that the new ceasefire proposal consists of three phases, the first of which includes the release of 900 Palestinians, including 100 serving long prison sentences, in exchange for Israeli civilian prisoners, and the return of displaced civilians to northern Gaza.

The source said that the displaced were required to return to camps set up by international organizations, not to their areas of residence.

He said that if the displaced were to return to the north, Israeli forces would be stationed a few hundred meters from Salah al-Din Street in the east and Er-Rashid Street in the west.

The source said that in the second phase, an agreed number of Palestinian prisoners will be released in exchange for all Israeli prisoners, while in the third phase, the bodies of Israeli prisoners will be handed over.

Ceasefire offer does not meet Hamas demands

Mahmoud Merdawi, a Hamas official, said that the proposal presented by the mediators clearly and unequivocally ignores the ceasefire and the need for Israel to withdraw from Gaza.

Merdavi continued:

“We want an agreement that does not plunge us into a new war. It must include a comprehensive ceasefire, a complete withdrawal of Israeli troops from Gaza, the unconditional return of the displaced to their homes and reconstruction, and a prisoner swap. We do not want an agreement that guarantees the release of Israeli prisoners but leaves our prisoners to negotiations and Israeli arbitrariness. This would mean the continuation of the occupation and the division of the northern and southern parts of the Gaza Strip under Israeli occupation.”

Merdavi said that the proposal does not include a ceasefire and the withdrawal of troops, does not clarify the status of prisoners, and does not include the return of the displaced, but the division of the displaced into civilians and soldiers, which means that most of the displaced will not be able to return home.


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