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Blinken 'hopeful' on Gaza ceasefire after Hamas signals acceptance


Jerusalem, June 12

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said that Hamas' welcoming of a United Nations resolution that backs a proposal for a ceasefire in the Gaza conflict was a "hopeful sign".

Blinken, currently on a visit to the Middle East to sell the ceasefire deal, made the remarks after Sami Abu Zuhri, a senior Hamas spokesman, said on Tuesday that the movement accepted the ceasefire proposal, according to a report by Israel's state-owned Kan TV news.

Earlier on Monday, Hamas announced in a statement sent via Telegram that it "welcomes" the UN Security Council resolution supporting a ceasefire in Gaza, a complete withdrawal of Israeli forces, and a swap of Palestinian prisoners for hostages held in Gaza.

Yet Blinken expressed his anticipation for Hamas leaders in Gaza to provide a clear confirmation of their stance on the proposal, Xinhua news agency reported.

"That's what counts, and that's what we still lack," he said.

He met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday night and said that the latter had "reaffirmed his commitment" to the ceasefire proposal.

Blinken met with Israeli officials on Monday and Tuesday after talks with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi in Cairo on Monday, as the Israeli hostage rescue operation, which killed more than 200 Palestinians, clouded the prospects for the ceasefire agreement.