Antony Blinken
Antony BlinkenDavid Azagury, U.S. Embassy Jerusalem

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Sunday held telephone conversations with Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and Minister Benny Gantz, in the wake of the three-phase plan for a ceasefire and hostage release deal which was presented by President Joe Biden.

“The Secretary commended Israel's readiness to conclude a deal and affirmed that the onus is on Hamas to accept. He underscored that the proposal would advance Israel's long-term security interests, including by enabling the possibility of further integration in the region. He reaffirmed the United States ironclad commitment to Israel's security,” said State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller in a statement summarizing the call with Gallant.

In the conversation with Gantz, said Miller, Blinken “commended Israel for the proposal and emphasized that Hamas should take the deal without delay.”

“He reiterated that, in addition to reuniting hostages with their loved ones, the proposal would advance Israel's long-term security interests, including by unlocking the possibility of calm along Israel's border with Lebanon that would allow Israelis to return to their homes,” added Miller.

According to the proposal outlined by Biden, the first phase of the 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," said the President, as well as the repatriation of the remains of deceased hostages to their families.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said after Biden announced the proposal, “Israel's conditions for ending the war have not changed: The destruction of Hamas military and governing capabilities, the freeing of all hostages and ensuring that Gaza no longer poses a threat to Israel.”

“Under the proposal, Israel will continue to insist these conditions are met before a permanent ceasefire is put in place. The notion that Israel will agree to a permanent ceasefire before these conditions are fulfilled is a non-starter.”

Hamas said it viewed the proposal presented by Biden “positively.

"The movement affirms its position of readiness to deal positively and constructively with any proposal based on a permanent ceasefire, complete withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, reconstruction, the return of the displaced to all their places of residence, and the completion of a serious prisoner exchange deal if the occupation declares its explicit commitment to that," the terrorist organization said.

The proposal was rejected by Ministers Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben Gvir, who clarified that implementation of the plan would lead to their resignation from the government.