US puts pressure on Israel with Gaza ceasefire resolution

Resolution on immediate Gaza ceasefire to go to U.N. Security Council vote.

CAIRO/WASHINGTON (Reuters): Israel’s spy chief was due to travel to Qatar on Friday for ceasefire negotiations while the U.S. planned to put a resolution calling for an immediate truce in Gaza to a vote of the U.N. Security Council, intensifying pressure on its ally.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Thursday in Cairo he believed talks mediated by the U.S., Qatar and Egypt could still reach a ceasefire deal between the Palestinian militant group Hamas and Israel.

Negotiations in Qatar centred on a truce of around six weeks that would allow the release of 40 Israeli hostages in return for hundreds of Palestinians detained in Israeli jails, paving the way for more aid to enter an enclave where famine looms due to extreme food shortages.

“Negotiators continue to work. The gaps are narrowing, and we’re continuing to push for an agreement in Doha. There’s still difficult work to get there. But I continue to believe it’s possible,” Blinken said.

The main sticking point has been that Hamas says it will release hostages only as part of a deal that would end the war, while Israel says it will discuss only a temporary pause.

A Palestinian official with knowledge of the mediation efforts, who declined to be identified, told Reuters that Hamas had demonstrated flexibility. Israel “continues to stall because it doesn’t want to commit to ending the war on Gaza,” the official said.

A statement by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said Israel’s spy chief David Barnea would travel to Qatar on Friday to meet mediators.

Meanwhile, Israel said it expected to continue attacks on Al Shifa hospital in Gaza City for a few more days. The facility, where residents reported tanks, gunfire and flames on Thursday, is the only partially working medical facility in the north of the enclave and has already been under attack for four days.

Israel says Hamas gunmen are holding out at the medical complex, something Hamas denies. Israel claims it has killed 150 fighters and captured 358 militants in and around the hospital in recent days.

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