Blinken meets Netanyahu in Israel for more ceasefire talks

Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu (R) receives US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Amos Ben-Gershom/GPO/dpa
Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu (R) receives US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Amos Ben-Gershom/GPO/dpa
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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Israel for the latest round of talks which aim to reach a ceasefire deal for the Gaza war and an agreement for the release of further hostages held by the Palestinian militant organization Hamas.

Blinken first met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Wednesday, according to US sources.

Together with Qatar and Egypt, the United States is involved in mediating a new deal between Israel and Hamas.

Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said at a press conference with Blinken in Doha on Tuesday that Hamas has handed over a response to the proposal on a renewed ceasefire in Gaza.

Hamas has said that it and its allies had dealt with the mediation proposal "in a positive spirit."

However, the agreement must lead to a full and comprehensive ceasefire, an end to the blockade of the Gaza Strip, the reconstruction of the war-ravaged coastal area and the full release of Palestinian prisoners, Hamas said.

Israeli media on Wednesday categorized Hamas' response as no more than an "opening position" in the negotiations.

The mediators' proposal is reportedly a multi-stage framework agreement that provides for a longer ceasefire but leaves several important details open.

Israel rejects a comprehensive ceasefire and continues to strive for the destruction of Hamas. Therefore, from Israel's point of view, only a temporary ceasefire is conceivable.

Furthermore, no number has yet been negotiated for the release of Palestinian prisoners by Israel.

In the only agreement of its kind since the war began, Hamas released 105 hostages during a week-long ceasefire at the end of November. In return, Israel released 240 Palestinian prisoners from prisons.