The ultimate political prize for Joe Biden is a ceasefire deal

A ceasefire deal between Hamas and Israel is the ultimate political prize for the White House. President Biden is under huge pressure from all sides over the war in Gaza.

Some traditional Democrat supporters are extremely unhappy with the Biden administration’s support for the Israelis.

America is Israel’s biggest supplier of military supplies, and many here are calling for conditions to be attached to arms deliveries – or for them to be stopped completely.

This view is especially prevalent among young people and ethnic minorities – crucial groups that Biden must win over if he has any chance of holding on to the White House during this November’s presidential election.

University campuses across the US have been rocked by pro-Palestinian protests in the past few weeks.

Some of them have turned violent – leading to accusations that Biden has overseen a breakdown in law and order. Many Republicans in Congress and Jewish groups say the protests are antisemitic and a threat to the safety of Jewish students.

Joe Biden has spoken of his frustration over Israel’s conduct of the war and has urged Netanyahu not to go ahead with a military operation in Rafah. If a full-scale offensive does go ahead, that would be a humiliating blow to Biden.

Turkey welcomes Hamas’ acceptance of ceasefire proposal

A bit more reaction now, this time from Turkey.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has welcomed the acceptance of a ceasefire proposal by Hamas and says he hopes Israel will do the same, according to a report by Reuters.

The agency says Erdogan is also calling on Western countries to increase their pressure on Israel.

Last week, Turkey suspended all trade with Israel over its offensive in Gaza, citing the “worsening humanitarian tragedy” in the strip.

Getty Images
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met in September 2023, just weeks before Hamas attacked Israel

Reconstruction of Gaza part of agreement – Hamas official

We’ve just been hearing a bit more on the ceasefire proposal Hamas has agreed to, via the Reuters news agency.

It includes a ceasefire, reconstruction of Gaza, return of the displaced and a prisoner swap, Hamas official Taher al-Nono has told the agency.

There’s no mention of the release of the hostages that are being held in Gaza and are understood to be part of the ceasefire proposal, but we’ll bring you more as we have it.

Hamas statement raises hopes after difficult talks


Hamas’s statement that it accepts a ceasefire proposal came as weeks of mediated talks seemed to have stalled.

Negotiations have been arduous, involving not just Hamas and Israel indirectly but also the US, Qatar and Egypt.

At this point, it is unclear exactly what Hamas means it accepts, but in recent days unconfirmed reports spoke of a phased agreement which would see dozens of Israeli hostages released in return for a much greater number of Palestinian prisoners in Israel amid a pause in the fighting.

Hamas had been holding out for a complete end to the war but Israel has made clear that is something which it can’t accept, since it would allow Hamas to survive.

Hamas’s statement came hours after Israel, for the first time, ordered Palestinians to evacuate from part of the southern Gaza city of Rafah in preparation for an operation – a move which could have put increased pressure on Hamas to avert that.

White House to face questions on Rafah offensive

The White House is scheduled to hold a press briefing at 14:15 EST (18:15 GMT) today, which will likely include national security communications advisor John Kirby.

Israel’s operation in Rafah and news of a potential ceasefire deal are likely to feature prominently.

As we reported earlier, US President Joe Biden held a phone call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in which he reiterated his “clear” position that the US does not support an invasion of Rafah without a plan for the civilians that are located there.

Earlier, Biden was also scheduled to have a private lunch with King Abdullah of Jordan.

In the evening, Biden and his wife Jill are scheduled to host a Cinco de Mayo event at the White House.

Proposal includes ‘far-reaching’ conclusions Israel doesn’t agree to – report

An Israeli official has said that Hamas has approved a “softened” Egyptian proposal that is not acceptable to Israel, Reuters is reporting.

The agency also reports that an Israeli official has said the proposal includes “far-reaching” conclusions that Israel does not agree to.

We’ll bring you more on this when we get it.

Cheers in Gaza

We’re seeing pictures of people cheering outside al-Aqsa hospital in central Gaza.

Children are jumping up and down as people chant joyously and bang what sound like pots and pans.

As we’ve mentioned, the details of any deal are yet to be announced, but the progress is cause for celebration for those on the ground in the conflict zone.

You can see these pictures for yourself by tapping Play at the top of the page.

People celebrating in Gaza

Hamas official says ‘ball in Israel’s court’

A Hamas official says the “ball [is] now in Israel’s court” after the group has indicated it would accept the terms of a ceasefire proposal.

In a statement published on its official website, Hamas says its leader, Ismail Haniyeh, conducted a telephone call with the prime minister of Qatar, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, and with the Egyptian intelligence minister, Abbas Kamel, and informed them of Hamas’s approval of their proposal regarding a ceasefire agreement.

Hamas accepts terms of ceasefire deal

The Hamas leadership says it has accepted the terms of a ceasefire deal in Gaza.

In a statement, the group says it has informed Qatari and Egyptian mediators of its decision.

The finer details are yet to be announced, including how long it will last and what this means for hostages being held in Gaza.

Stay tuned for live updates from us here in London, and analysis from our colleagues in Jerusalem.

Read More…