Israel’s full offer said to provide for ‘permanent’ truce before all hostages return

Channel 12 shows what it says is Israel’s four-page hostage-ceasefire proposal; PMO says it’s incomplete, misleading, and denies Israel agreed to end war before achieving its goals

Left: Yahya Sinwar, head of Hamas in Gaza, Gaza City, April 30, 2022. (AP Photo/Adel Hana); Right: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, December 10, 2023. (Ronen Zvulun/Pool Photo via AP)
Left: Yahya Sinwar, head of Hamas in Gaza, Gaza City, April 30, 2022. (AP Photo/Adel Hana); Right: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, December 10, 2023. (Ronen Zvulun/Pool Photo via AP)

Israel’s proposed hostage and ceasefire deal with Hamas includes a commitment to end the war in Gaza even before all hostages are released, according to a news report on Monday, which showed what it said was the full document and quoted portions of it.

Channel 12 published extensive details of what it said was Israel’s May 27 proposal, without citing sources or saying how it obtained it.

Contrary to what Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has insisted, the reported four-page document apparently does not provide for the elimination of Hamas as a governing force in Gaza, and does include an Israeli commitment to end the war even before all the hostages are released, the report said.

Clause 15 of the proposal, as shown by Channel 12, provides, in the second phase of the deal, for the announced “restoration of a sustainable calm (cessation of military operations and hostilities permanently) and its commencement prior to the exchange of hostages and prisoners…”

Immediately following the broadcast of the report, Netanyahu’s office called it misleading and said the claim Israel had agreed to end the war before achieving its goals was “a total lie.”

Israel’s proposal was announced at the end of May by US President Joe Biden, who said Jerusalem had proposed a three-phase deal for a ceasefire in Gaza in exchange for Hamas releasing all hostages. Biden told the terror group to accept it and urged the Israeli government to stand behind it.

Both the Biden announcement and Monday’s report said Israel had agreed to end hostilities, a key Hamas demand. Even so, Netanyahu has continued to deny this. Biden, in his speech presenting details of the Israeli proposal, also stressed, however, that “If Hamas fails to fulfill its commitments under the deal, Israel can resume military operations.”

Monday’s TV report said the document — titled “General Principles for an agreement between the Israeli side and the Palestinian side in Gaza on the exchange of hostages and prisoners and restoring a sustainable calm” — features 18 clauses, sets out three phases of a deal, and provides the most detailed picture to date of the contents of Israel’s proposals, to which Hamas has yet to formally respond.

The Israeli proposal is subtitled “Israel’s response on 6 May 2024 proposal.” Hamas on May 6 issued a document specifying what it said was a ceasefire proposal it was accepting; Israel and the US said the Hamas document was in fact a counterproposal.

Families and friends of hostages held in the Gaza Strip by Hamas since October 7, launch a small airship calling for their release, ‘Save them now,’ in Tel Aviv on June 9, 2024 (JACK GUEZ / AFP)

Key elements of the proposal

In the first phase, according to the reported Israeli document, Hamas would free all the women hostages — including soldiers — in addition to men over the age of 50 and ill and wounded civilians — 33 hostages in total. In return, Israel would release 30 Palestinian security prisoners per hostage, or 50 per female soldier, with the inmates belonging to the same group (women, children, elderly, etc.) as the hostages they were being exchanged for.

Notably, the release of Palestinian inmates, including terror convicts, would be “subject to lists to be provided by Hamas based on precedence of their imprisonment.”

Out of the 50 Palestinian prisoners freed for each of the five female soldiers believed to be held alive in the Strip, 30 would be inmates serving life sentences, and 20 would be serving other sentences “limited up to 15 years remaining time in prison,” the document said.

The identities of those estimated 250 prisoners would also be based on lists provided by Hamas, except an “agreed upon number of prisoners (at least 100) who will be discussed in the second phase.” At least 50 of the freed inmates serving life sentences would be released to Gaza or abroad, not to the West Bank.

In the first phase, Hamas would release three female civilian hostages on day 1 and another four on day 7, followed by three Israeli hostages every seven days, beginning with women — whether civilians or soldiers — and with all the living hostages being released before any bodies.

During the sixth week of the first phase — after the release of Hisham al-Sayed and Avera Mengistu, civilians who separately entered the Strip of their own accord close to a decade ago — Israel would release 47 Palestinians who were freed in the 2011 Gilad Shalit deal and have since been rearrested, the proposal reportedly said.

In addition, Israel during the sixth week would also release all Palestinian women and children under 19 “who are not militants” who have been detained in Gaza since October 7.

Illustrative: Members of the Hamas and the Islamic Jihad terror groups release Israeli hostages to the Red Cross, in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, November 28, 2023. (Flash90)

No prisoners could be rearrested for the same offenses, and they would not be required to sign any document, the report said.

Regarding the sensitive issue of how the transition from the first phase to the second will work — on which Netanyahu’s version of the deal has differed from the one publicly presented by Biden — the document said that no later than day 16, indirect negotiations would begin over details of the exchange that would take place in the second phase, when soldiers and remaining men would be released.

“This should be concluded and agreed upon before the end of week 5 of this [first] phase,” the document reportedly says, adding, in Clause 14, that “all procedures in this phase including the temporary cessation of military operations by both sides… will continue in phase 2 as long as the negotiations… are ongoing. The guarantors of this agreement shall make every effort to ensure that those indirect negotiations continue until both sides are able to reach agreement on the conditions for implementing phase 2 of this agreement.” (The wording of Clause 14 had previously been published.)

Clause 15 of Israel’s hostage-sustainable calm proposal, as shown on Channel 12 news on June 10, 2024 (Screenshot)

In phase 2, which would last 42 days, the sides, according to Clause 15, would “announce restoration of a sustainable calm (cessation of military operations and hostilities permanently) and its commencement prior to the exchange of hostages and prisoners.” Also, during this part, Israeli forces would completely withdraw from the Gaza Strip.

A Palestinian man walks amid rubble following an Israeli military operation that rescued four hostages held by Hamas in the Nuseirat camp, in the central Gaza Strip, on June 8, 2024. (Eyad Baba/AFP)

The PMO responds

In response to the Channel 12 report, the Prime Minister’s Office said the “document that was presented is incomplete and misleads the public.”

“The claim that Israel agreed to end the war before achieving all its goals is a total lie,” said the PMO.

The full document, argued Netanyahu’s office, would show that “Israel will not end the war until all its conditions are met — that is, fighting until Hamas is eliminated, returning all of our hostages, and ensuring that Gaza never again represents a threat to Israel.”

Further pushing back against the report, an Israeli official noted that “the outline explicitly states that no later than the sixteenth day, indirect negotiations will begin in which Israel will present its terms for ending the war.”

“These conditions have not changed,” said the official, “the elimination of the military and governmental capabilities of Hamas, the return of all our abductees and making sure that Gaza no longer poses a threat to Israel.”

Israel will insist on achieving these conditions, added the official, calling the TV report “devoid of any basis.”

Despite Netanyahu’s denials, he has not released the text of the Israeli proposal and has also refused to reveal the full proposal to the security cabinet, drawing accusations from his far-right allies that he is purposefully concealing information from them. They have said any end to the war without Hamas being vanquished will prompt them to leave the government.

The US has embraced the plan as the best way to end the war and see the return of the hostages.

Blinken: Press Hamas to say ‘yes’

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who is on his eighth tour of the region since the outbreak of the war, on Monday again called on Hamas to accept the plan, which he said has wide international support and has been accepted by Israel. “My message to governments throughout the region… if you want a ceasefire, press Hamas to say ‘yes,’” he told reporters before leaving Cairo.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, left, meets Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, June 10, 2024. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)

He said the plan on the table is the “single best way” to get to a ceasefire, release the remaining hostages held in Gaza and improve regional security.

The war broke out on October 7, when Hamas launched an onslaught on southern Israel, killing some 1,200 people and taking 251 hostages.

It is believed that 116 hostages abducted by Hamas on October 7 remain in Gaza — many of them dead — after 105 civilians were released from Hamas captivity during a weeklong truce in late November, and four hostages were released prior to that.

Seven hostages have been rescued by troops alive, and the bodies of 19 hostages have also been recovered, including three mistakenly killed by the military. The IDF has confirmed the deaths of 41 of those still held by Hamas, citing new intelligence and findings obtained by troops operating in Gaza. One more person is listed as missing since October 7, and their fate is still unknown.

Hamas is also holding two Israeli civilians who entered the Strip in 2014 and 2015, as well as the bodies of two IDF soldiers who were killed in 2014.

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