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Qatari PM: We’re continuing efforts to bridge the gap between Israel and Hamas

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Qatar said Friday it was continuing mediation efforts to “bridge the gap” between Israel and Hamas to secure a ceasefire in Gaza and the release of Israeli hostages held there, AFP reported.

“We have continued our efforts without interruption over the last few days,” Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani was quoted as having told a joint news conference in Madrid with Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares.

“There have been several meetings with the Hamas leadership to try to bridge the gap between the two parties and reach an agreement that will lead to a ceasefire and the release of the Israeli hostages” being held in Gaza, he added.

“Efforts are continuing, but so far we have not reached a formula that we feel is the most appropriate and closest to what has been presented,” the Qatari Prime Minister said, before adding, “As soon as this is done, we will communicate with the Israeli side to try to bridge the gap and reach an agreement as quickly as possible.”

The talks are centering on the ceasefire in Gaza and hostage release deal outlined by US President Joe Biden last month.

The first phase of Biden’s three-phase process would last for six weeks and would include a full and complete ceasefire, withdrawal of Israeli forces from all populated areas of Gaza, and the release of a number of hostages, including women, the elderly, and the wounded, in exchange for the release of hundreds of Palestinian Arab prisoners.

Phase two would see the release of all remaining living hostages, while phase three would encompass “a major reconstruction plan for Gaza,” as well as the repatriation of the remains of deceased hostages to their families.

Hamas gave its official response to the proposal last week. A senior Israeli official then said Israel had received Hamas’ response and added that the terrorist organization rejected Biden’s proposal.

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said last Saturday that mediators for Qatar and Egypt plan to engage Hamas soon to see if there is a way to push ahead with the proposal.

He also told reporters that US officials have taken a close look at Hamas’ response.

“We think some of the edits are not unexpected and can be managed. Some of them are inconsistent both with what President Biden laid out and what the UN Security Council endorsed. And we are having to deal with that reality,” said Sullivan.

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