Gaza ceasefire: Don't 'lose this moment', Biden says as he unveils Israeli proposal to Hamas to end war

Israel has offered a comprehensive new ceasefire deal to Hamas, according to US President Joe Biden.

The deal would involve the return of Israeli hostages from Gaza and the reconstruction of civilian areas.

Mr Biden urged Hamas and prominent figures in Israel not to "lose this moment" after ceasefire talks ground to a halt at the start of the month when Israel refused a permanent end to the war and ramped up its assault on the city of Rafah.

"Everyone who wants peace now must raise their voices and work to make it real. It's time for this war to end," the president said during a surprise address at the White House on Friday.

"Israel has made their proposal. Hamas says it wants a ceasefire. This deal is an opportunity to prove whether they really mean it," he told the news conference.

The office of Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said its main goals are "the return of all our abductees and the elimination of Hamas' military and governmental capabilities", with a statement claiming the three-stage proposal "allows Israel to maintain these principles".

US party leaders have also invited Mr Netanyahu to address Congress.

Hamas said in a statement that it "views positively" what was included in Mr Biden's speech saying it will deal "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".

Three-phase plan

The first phase of the proposed deal would be a ceasefire lasting six weeks, during which Israel and Hamas would negotiate a permanent end to the fighting in Gaza, Mr Biden said.

If the negotiations take longer than six weeks, the ceasefire would continue for as long as it takes to strike a deal, he added.

Phase two would involve Hamas handing over the remaining 100 hostages and Israel withdrawing all of its forces from Gaza.

The final phase would be about a "major reconstruction plan" for Gaza, according to the president.

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Mr Biden claimed Hamas is no longer capable of carrying out another attack like the one on 7 October.

Sky News' Middle East correspondent Alistair Bunkall says he has been told the deal has not been made "with the cooperation of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu".

"Sources close to Mr Netanyahu" have told him they do not "wholly recognise or agree with" the proposal outlined by Mr Biden on Friday.

'Big moment'

Sky News' US correspondent Mark Stone, however, describes the announcement as a "big moment", saying it "feels significant" compared with other similar ones in the past.

It was only on Thursday that Hamas told mediators Egypt and Qatar that it would not take part in future negotiations as long as the Israeli assault on Gaza continued.

The group said it was prepared for a "complete agreement", including hostage exchanges, if Israel stopped the war from its side.

UK Foreign Secretary Lord David Cameron said late on Friday: "With a new hostage agreement on the table, Hamas must accept this deal so we can see a stop in the fighting, the hostages released and returned to their families and a flood of humanitarian aid into Gaza.

"As we've long argued, a stop in the fighting can be turned into a permanent peace if we are all prepared to take the right steps. Let's seize this moment and bring this conflict to an end."

Former president Barack Obama also welcomed Mr Biden's statement, saying he "put forward a clear, realistic and just plan to establish an immediate ceasefire and end the war in Gaza."

Mr Biden's announcement comes after widespread condemnation of an Israeli airstrike on Rafah last Sunday, which killed at least 45 displaced Palestinians living in tents.

Distressing images of burned-out tents and bodies being pulled from wreckage have been shared around the world on social media, with the caption 'all eyes on Rafah'.

Israel's prime minister said the strike a "tragic mistake", while a spokesperson for the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) said much of the destruction was caused by a subsequent fire that could not have been solely ignited by the type of munitions used.