Egypt says its awaiting responses on plan to free hostages, end war in Gaza

Egypt confirmed on Thursday that it had put forward a framework proposal to end the war in Gaza including a three-stage plan for a ceasefire, says the head of its state media body.

Egypt is yet to get responses on the proposal from the parties involved, and will give details about the plan once those responses are received, says Diaa Rashwan, head of Egypt’s State Information Service.

The proposal is an attempt “to bring viewpoints between all concerned parties closer, in an effort to stop Palestinian bloodshed and the aggression against the Gaza Strip and restore peace and stability to the region,” he says.

The reported Egyptian initiative is a plan to end hostilities and release all the remaining hostages, in three stages.

The first stage of the Egyptian plan would be a two-week halt to the fighting, extendable to three or four, in exchange for the release of 40 hostages — women, minors, and elderly men, especially sick ones.

In return, Israel would release 120 Palestinian security prisoners of the same categories. During this time, hostilities would stop, Israeli tanks would withdraw, and humanitarian aid would enter Gaza.

The second phase would see an Egypt-sponsored “Palestinian national talk” aimed at ending the division between Palestinian factions — mainly the Fatah party-dominated Palestinian Authority and Hamas — and leading to the formation of a technocratic government in the West Bank and Gaza that would oversee the reconstruction of the Strip and pave the way for Palestinian parliamentary and presidential elections.

The third stage would include a comprehensive ceasefire, the release of the remaining Israeli hostages, including soldiers, in return for a to-be-determined number of Palestinian security prisoners in Israeli jails affiliated with Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group — including those arrested after October 7 and some convicted of serious terror offenses. In this phase, Israel would withdraw its forces from cities in the Gaza Strip and allow displaced Gazans from the enclave’s north to return to their homes.

Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad are said to have rejected the plan.

Earlier Thursday, an Egyptian source told the Qatari newspaper Al-Araby Al-Jadid (The New Arab)that any talk of the complete removal of Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad from the postwar Gazan political scene is not realistic, and it would be better to strive for a consensus on the political structure of the Strip.

The source, who is familiar with the negotiation process mediated by Cairo to formulate a postwar vision for Gaza, says that the US administration has been pushing for a scenario that does not include Hamas and insisting that a solution to the future administration of Gaza be found before the end of the war, in a way that will ensure Israel’s security and prevent a repeat of the October 7 assault.

Cairo, the source adds, has been seeking to draft a proposal that does not exclude Hamas but rather includes it as a partner though not as a main actor, with a mechanism to oversee its activities.

Gianluca Pacchiani contributed to this report.

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