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Wednesday, February 28, 2024  
17 Shaban 1445  

Netanyahu, Hamas leader indicate deal on Gaza truce and hostages is close

Saudi crown prince calls on countries to cease weapons export to Israel
Israel’s military transports Palestinian detainees from the Gaza Strip, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, near Israel’s border with Gaza, in southern Israel, November 20, 2023. Reuters
Israel’s military transports Palestinian detainees from the Gaza Strip, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, near Israel’s border with Gaza, in southern Israel, November 20, 2023. Reuters
Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman addressing the BRICS extraordinary virtual summit on the Israeli-Palestine issue on November 21, 2023. Photo via X/@Saudi_Gazette
Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman addressing the BRICS extraordinary virtual summit on the Israeli-Palestine issue on November 21, 2023. Photo via X/@Saudi_Gazette

The leader of Hamas said on Tuesday a truce with Israel was close and Israel’s prime minister said he hoped for “good news” soon about hostages, the most optimistic signs so far of a deal to pause the devastating war in Gaza and free captives.

As negotiations appeared to be nearing agreement, however, the fighting on the ground raged on with Israel saying its forces had encircled the Jabalia refugee camp, a major urban flashpoint and Hamas militant stronghold.

The Palestinian news agency said 33 people were killed and dozens wounded in an Israeli air strike on part of Jabalia, a congested urban extension of Gaza City where Hamas has been battling advancing Israeli armoured forces.

In southern Gaza, Hamas-affiliated media said 10 people were killed and 22 injured by an Israeli air strike on an apartment in the city of Khan Younis.

Reuters could not immediately verify the fighting accounts of either side.

If a deal on hostages transpires, it would be the first pause in hostilities and the first mass release of people held by both sides in a six-week-old war that has raised fears of wider conflict in the Middle East.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said in a statement sent to Reuters by his aide that group officials were “close to reaching a truce agreement” with Israel and the group had delivered its latest response to Qatari mediators.

Saudi crown prince calls on countries to cease weapons export to Israel

Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has urged countries to stop weapons exports to Israel, as the war has killed more than 13,300 Palestinians, thousands of them children.

“The Kingdom’s position is constant and firm; there is no way to achieve security and stability in Palestine except through the implementation of international decisions related to the two-state solution,” MBS he was quoted as saying by the Al Arabiya while addressing the BRICS extraordinary virtual summit on the Israeli-Palestine issue on Tuesday.

South Africa is hosting the summit, aimed at drawing up a common response to the Israel-Hamas conflict. Earlier this year, the kingdom was invited to join the bloc comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa.

He demanded that the start of a “serious and comprehensive peace process” to establish a Palestinian state along the borders of 1967. He demanded an immediate halt to Israeli operations.

The “brutal crimes” unfolding in Gaza demand a collective effort to bring them to an end, he said.

Xi says solution to Palestinian-Israeli conflict lies in two-state solution

The only viable way to break the cycle of Palestinian-Israeli conflict lies in the two-state solution, Chinese President Xi Jinping was quoted as saying in a series of tweets shared by Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying in a post on X, erstwhile Twitter.

“There can be no sustainable peace and security in the Middle East without a just solution to the question of Palestine,” he said.

The Chinese president went on to add that the parties to the conflict must end hostilities and achieve a ceasefire immediately, stop all violence and attacks against civilians, release civilians held captive, and act to prevent the loss of more lives and spare people from more miseries.

“The right of the Palestinian people to statehood, their right to existence, and their right of return have long been ignored. This is the root cause of the Palestinian-Israeli situation,” Xi said.

He added that China called for early convening of an international peace conference that is more authoritative to build international consensus for peace and work toward an early solution to the question of Palestine that is “comprehensive, just and sustainable.”

Meanwhile, Russia President Vladimir Putin called for a political solution to the situation in Gaza, and the BRICS bloc could take part in it.

According to Reuters, Putin said that humanitarian pauses were a right step towards peace and it was important not to draw other countries into the conflict.

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