Gaza War: Biden says Israel offers new roadmap to end Gaza war


US President Joe Biden said Friday that Israel was offering a new roadmap towards a full ceasefire in Gaza that he urged Hamas to accept, saying it’s “time for this war to end”.

Biden’s intervention, which had been heavily trailed, came as Israeli troops pushed into central Rafah, escalating its nearly eight-month war with Hamas despite international objections to any assault on the south Gaza city. It also came as top diplomat Antony Blinken acknowledged that despite US efforts to get more aid into Gaza, the humanitarian situation in the Palestinian territory remained “dire”.

In his first major address outlining how the Gaza war might end, Biden said that Israel’s three-stage offer would begin with a six-week phase that would see Israeli forces withdraw from all populated areas of Gaza.

It would also see the “release of a number of hostages, including women, the elderly, the wounded, in exchange for (the) release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners.”

Israel and the Palestinians would then negotiate during those six weeks for a lasting ceasefire — but the truce would continue while the talks remained underway, Biden said. The US president urged Hamas to accept the Israeli offer.

“It’s time for this war to end, for the day after to begin,” he said, adding: “We can’t lose this moment” to seize the chance for peace. After successive rounds of indirect negotiations in recent months all failed, Hamas said earlier Friday that it had informed mediators it would only agree a “comprehensive” truce including a hostage-prisoner swap if Israel halts its “aggression”.

Ismail Haniyeh, the head of Hamas’s Qatar-based political office, accused Israel of “using negotiations as a cover to continue its aggression”, saying Hamas “refuses to be a part of these manoeuvres”.

Israel has repeatedly vowed to destroy Hamas since the Palestinian militant group attacked southern Israel on October 7.

Israel sent tanks and troops into Rafah in early May, ignoring concerns over the safety of displaced Palestinian civilians sheltering in the city on the Egyptian border.

On Friday, soldiers were operating in the city centre where they uncovered rocket launchers and tunnel shafts and dismantled a Hamas weapons storage facility, the army said.__Daily Times