Blinken says US working to 'bridge remaining gaps' on Hamas-Israel deal

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Friday that Washington was working "intensively" with its partners "to bridge the remaining gaps" for a deal to free hostages held by Hamas and secure a ceasefire in Gaza.

"Yes, there has been a counter-proposal put forward by Hamas. I obviously can't get into the details of what that involves, but what I can tell you is we're working intensively with Israel, with Qatar, with Egypt, to bridge the remaining gaps and to try to reach an agreement," Blinken said during a visit to Vienna.

Hamas has proposed a new six-week truce in Gaza and an exchange of several dozen Israeli hostages for Palestinian prisoners, an official from the militant group told AFP on Friday.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said Israel would send a delegation to Doha for another round of talks on securing the release of hostages in Gaza.

"I think it reflects the sense both of possibility and of urgency to get an agreement, to get a ceasefire, to get the hostages back, to get even more humanitarian assistance in," Blinken said about Israel's move.

When asked about a possible Israel military offensive on Rafah, Blinken said the U.S. had not seen such plans, reiterating that Washington wants a "clear and implementable plan" to ensure civilians are "out of harm's way".

During the October 7 attack by Hamas, militants seized about 250 Israeli and foreign hostages, dozens of whom were released during a week-long truce in November. Israel believes about 130 captives remain in Gaza including 32 presumed dead.

The assault killed about 1,160 people in Israel, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally of official figures.

Israel's retaliatory campaign to destroy Hamas has killed at least 31,490...

Continue reading on: