The ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas has drawn global attention since 7 October 2023, leading to widespread debates and civilian protests. However, in recent days a path towards peace has tentatively emerged. 

On 31 May, President Biden introduced a cease-fire proposal aimed at ending the conflict in Gaza. The United Nations Security Council unanimously endorsed this plan, hoping to bring an end to the violence that has resulted in significant loss of life and widespread destruction.

Both Israel and Hamas have signalled their openness to the US-backed cease-fire proposal, but neither has formally accepted the plan yet. 

The proposal outlines a three-phase plan:

Immediate Cease-Fire: 

This initial phase includes a six-week cease-fire. During this period, Hamas would release some hostages, and Israel would release Palestinian prisoners. The goal is to stop the fighting temporarily and allow humanitarian aid to reach those in need in Gaza.

Permanent Cease-Fire Negotiations: 

In the second phase, both parties would negotiate a permanent end to hostilities and the withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza. This phase aims to ensure long-term peace and stability in the region.

Reconstruction and Recovery: 

The final phase focuses on rebuilding Gaza, which has been devastated by the conflict. This phase includes returning the remains of deceased hostages and implementing a comprehensive reconstruction plan.

Israeli officials have indicated that the cease-fire proposal aligns with their war goals, which include dismantling Hamas’s military capabilities and freeing all hostages in Gaza. However, Israel has not formally accepted the agreement. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been cautious about committing to the plan, emphasising that Israel will continue its operations until all its objectives are met.

Hamas, on the other hand, has shown a positive response to the proposal but has not taken a clear public stance. Senior Hamas official Husam Badran criticised Netanyahu, suggesting that he is the primary obstacle to reaching an agreement.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has been actively involved in mediating the conflict. During his recent visit to the Middle East, Blinken met with Israeli leaders and urged Hamas to accept the cease-fire proposal. He emphasised that accepting the deal would benefit the Palestinian people by pausing the fighting and allowing more humanitarian aid to flow into Gaza.

Despite the international push for a cease-fire, the situation remains tense. Recent hostilities have resulted in the deaths of four Israeli soldiers in Rafah, and the overall death toll in Gaza has surpassed 37,000 people, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry. The war has severely disrupted the flow of essential supplies, leading to widespread hunger and suffering among Palestinians.

For now, the fate of the cease-fire proposal hangs in the balance, with international leaders urging both sides to seize this opportunity to end the violence and address the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.