Israel ‘does not want peace’, senior Hamas official says

Hamad has said Hamas is willing to negotiate on the terms proposed by Biden [Getty]

A senior member of Hamas said on Sunday that there is a wide disparity between US President Joe Biden’s ceasefire proposal, revealed last week, and Israel’s position on it.

Ghazi Hamad, a member of the Hamas Political Bureau, told The New Arab’s sister outlet Al-Araby Al-Jadeed in an exclusive interview that despite Biden presenting a peace proposal as if it came from Israel, Tel Aviv does not support an end to the war.

Hamad describes Israel’s reaction to Biden’s proposal as “very negative”.

“Last week, there was a meeting between Hamas leadership and mediators in Doha, and we were surprised that Biden’s speech was interpreted differently by [Israel],” Hamad said.

“The Israeli proposal presented to us did not clearly and decisively state support for a ceasefire … it became evident that there was no harmony in vision among all parties and that Biden’s speech was understood differently [by Israel],” he added.

Biden announced a three-phase peace plan for Gaza last week, which he claimed had been proposed by Israel.

The deal included a permanent ceasefire, full Israeli withdrawal from all of Gaza and the release of all captives held in the Palestinian enclave.

However, immediately after Biden’s announcement, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu began to back away from the US president’s proposal, saying Israel would continue its war aim of “destroying Hamas”.

Hamas, on the other hand, reacted positively to Biden’s speech, however the US began blaming the Palestinian group for the lack of progress in negotiations.

Hamad pointed out that Hamas accepted all of Biden’s terms and said that it is Israel impeding negotiations.

“So far, we do not have a clear and decisive Israeli position accepting a permanent ceasefire, which is what we demand from the mediators. We tell them if there is a permanent ceasefire and complete withdrawal from Gaza, we are ready to resume negotiations.”

While Hamad says that Hamas is under no illusions about Washington’s role in Israel’s ongoing war on Gaza, he does believe that the Biden administration wants to end the war.

“The United States is interested in ending the war due to many calculations and interests, particularly as the region has become inflamed in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and the Red Sea, reflecting on the upcoming American elections,” Hamad said.

“The Americans felt that the world had turned against Israel, isolating it internationally, and their interests in the Middle East were at risk, this influenced their position. Biden clearly stated that this war would lead to nothing.”

However, Hamad believes that US pressure on Israel has failed and the war will continue due to Israeli intransigence, despite his belief that Israel has achieved nothing.

“The Israelis, specifically Netanyahu, do not want the war to stop. After eight months, Netanyahu has not achieved anything,” the senior Hamas leader said.

“Netanyahu has not retrieved the prisoners, has not eliminated Hamas, and has not imposed a new reality in Gaza so far, despite the Americans giving him many opportunities to end the military operations,” he added.

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