Hamas Blames Blinken as Ceasefire Deal Falters

Hamas Blames Blinken as Ceasefire Deal Falters

A Hamas spokesman stated on Wednesday that U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is “part of the problem, not the solution.” This comment came as Blinken urged the Palestinian militant group to agree to a ceasefire deal.

This week, Secretary of State Antony Blinken has been traveling in the Middle East following a United Nations Security Council resolution that endorsed the administration’s proposal for a ceasefire and hostage release. The U.S. administration announced that Israel had accepted this proposal.

Under U.S. pressure, Israel agreed to the proposal while emphasizing its goal of dismantling Hamas’s military and governing capabilities. President Biden incorrectly claimed that the proposal originated from Israel, a statement that Israeli officials denied.

The administration has been urging Hamas to accept the deal and has asked countries with influence over Hamas to apply pressure for its acceptance. However, so far, Hamas has only taken advantage of U.S. concessions and demanded more.

The proposal was, the State Department said last week, “virtually identical” to past Hamas proposals. However at the time President Joe Biden announced the proposal, Hamas had rejected similar plans.

The sticking point, for Hamas, is that the proposal does not explicitly guarantee that Israel will stop fighting on a permanent basis. Hamas has insisted for weeks that the U.S. issue a written guarantee of a permanent ceasefire.

Earlier this week, Hamas welcomed the UN Security Council resolution but called for further negotiations. On Tuesday, it issued a formal response with several additional demands, including control over the Gaza-Egypt border.

That would allow Hamas to resume smuggling weapons into Gaza, and to re-arm its forces.

Hamas also wanted changes in the timeline of the proposal regarding the withdrawal of Israeli troops from Gaza.

Blinken criticized Hamas’s response on Wednesday:

“Hamas has proposed numerous changes to the proposal that was on the table… Some of the changes are workable, some are not,” Blinken says in a press conference with Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani in Doha.

“A deal was on the table that was virtually identical to the proposal that Hamas made on May 6 — a deal that the entire world is behind, a deal Israel has accepted.”

“Hamas could have answered with a single word. ‘Yes.’ Instead, Hamas waited nearly two weeks and then proposed more changes, a number of which go beyond positions that had previously taken and accepted.”

Hamas denied that its demands were new, the Times of Israel reported Wednesday, and criticized Blinken.

Blinken will likely return to the U.S. empty-handed after a visit that included Egypt, Israel, Jordan, and Qatar. He has said he will continue pursuing a deal.