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Israel agrees to dispatch negotiators to talks on ceasefire plan

ISRAELI Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to dispatch negotiators to resume Gaza ceasefire talks, an official said today.

The decision comes a day after Hamas submitted a new response to a United States-backed proposal for a phased ceasefire.

The Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity, says Mr Netanyahu has decided to authorise a team to continue talks. There was no word on when or where the talks would talk place.

Hamas suggested amendments last month, some of which the US said were unworkable. 

Mr Netanyahu has previously insisted that only the total destruction of Hamas could bring an end to the fighting.

Hamas confirmed on Wednesday that it had sent another response to Egypt and Qatar, which are mediating, without providing any details. 

A US official said that the White House was examining the response, calling it constructive but saying more work needed to be done. 

An Israeli official said that Mr Netanyahu would convene a Cabinet meeting today to discuss the latest developments surrounding the negotiations. 

Israel would likely hold additional consultations before making a final decision on any amended proposal.

Hamas political official Bassem Naim said that the group has neither accepted nor rejected the US proposal.

He said without elaborating that the group has “responded with some ideas to bridge the gap” between the two sides. 

US officials said that Hamas proposed new language to mediators Egypt and Qatar on Saturday to address key aspects of the three-phase deal that US President Joe Biden laid out in a May 31 speech.

The first phase calls for a “full and complete ceasefire,” a withdrawal of Israeli forces from all densely populated areas of Gaza and the release of a number of hostages, including women, older people and the wounded, in exchange for the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners.

The proposal called for the parties to negotiate the terms of the second phase during the 42 days of phase one. Under the current proposal, Hamas could release all of the remaining men, both civilians and soldiers, during the second phase.

In return, Israel could free an agreed-upon number of Palestinian prisoners.

The releases wouldn’t occur until “sustainable calm” takes effect and all Israeli troops withdraw from Gaza. The third phase would see the return of the remains of hostages.

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