Antony Blinken
Antony BlinkenREUTERS/Remo Casilli

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken reacted to the Hamas terrorist organization's response to the ceasefire deal proposed nearly two weeks ago by US President Joe Biden.

During a meeting in Doha with Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, Blinken said, "Twelve days ago, President Biden set out a ceasefire proposal rooted in core principles of releasing all the hostages, surging assistance into Gaza, guaranteeing Israel’s security, providing a path to an enduring end to war, and starting the massive reconstruction for Gaza."

"The entire world – almost without fail – has been behind this proposal. And we’ve heard it again and again and again – individual countries pronouncing themselves in support, in this region and beyond; important groups like the G7, the Arab League, Palestinian Authority, Israel, and of course just two days ago the United Nations Security Council. The leaders in the region that I’ve met with over the last couple of days, they have reaffirmed that again and again and again," he said.

"So we were waiting on one response, and that was the response from Hamas. And as the prime minister said, last night we received a response. Hamas has proposed numerous changes to the proposal that was on the table. We discussed those changes last night with Egyptian colleagues and today with the prime minister. Some of the changes are workable; some are not," Blinken said.

According to the Secretary of State, "Here, in a nutshell, is where we stand: A deal was on the table that was virtually identical to the proposal that Hamas put forward on May the 6th, a deal that the entire world was behind, a deal Israel has accepted, and Hamas could have answered with a single word: yes. Instead, Hamas waited nearly two weeks and then proposed more changes, a number of which go beyond positions it had previously taken and accepted. As a result – and you heard the prime minister say this – the war that Hamas started on October 7th, with its barbaric attack on Israel and on Israeli civilians, will go on. More people will suffer. More Palestinians will suffer; more Israelis will suffer."

"But in the days ahead, we are going to continue to push on an urgent basis – with our partners, with Qatar, with Egypt – to try to close this deal, because we know it’s in the interests of Israelis, Palestinians, the region, indeed the entire world. And we all agree that the deal has to be grounded in the principles of the ceasefire proposal that the entire international community supports.

"There’s something else that’s critical, and the prime minister alluded to it. It’s also crucial that we get from the immediate ceasefire that we’re working urgently to achieve to an enduring end. And in order to do that and to do that effectively, we have to have plans for the day after the conflict ends in Gaza, and we need to have them as soon as possible. For months we’ve been working with partners throughout the region on such a plan, and that was also a key focus of conversations I’ve had over the last couple of days. In the coming weeks, we will put forward proposals for key elements of a day-after plan, including concrete ideas for how to manage governance, security, reconstruction. That plan is key to turning a ceasefire into an enduring end to the conflict, but also turning an end of war into a just and durable peace, and using that peace – using that peace as a foundation for building a more integrated, a more stable, a more prosperous region.

"Over the course of what’s now my eighth visit to the region since October 7th, everyone that I’ve engaged with has made clear that this is the path they want to pursue. Now, I can’t speak for Hamas or answer for Hamas, and ultimately, it may not be the path that Hamas wants to pursue, but Hamas cannot and will not be allowed to decide the future for this region and its people," Blinken said.

The Hostages Families Forum Headquarters released a statement in support of Blinken's remarks.

"Hamas' response to the deal represents another step towards accepting Israel's hostage deal proposal," the forum stated.

It continued, "The Families Forum unequivocally supports U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who stated today that the gaps can be bridged. During his meeting with families of the hostages yesterday, Blinken emphasized his commitment and the United States' dedication to promoting a deal for the return of the hostages."

"The Families Forum demands that Israel send its negotiation teams to exhaust every possibility for progress. Any delay may jeopardize the possibility of reaching a deal and greatly endangers the hostages who have been held by Hamas for eight months. Each passing day is one too many. We will not be able to begin the rehabilitation process without them as a nation. A deal is the only way to bring all the hostages home - the murdered for burial and the living for rehabilitation," the statement concluded.