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Hamas must accept truce deal and be removed from Gaza leadership, UK foreign secretary says

RIYADH: Hamas was urged on Monday by British Foreign Secretary David Cameron to accept an offer of a 40-day ceasefire and the release of “potentially thousands” of Palestinian prisoners in return for freeing Israeli hostages.

Speaking at a Special Meeting of the World Economic Forum in Riyadh, the former UK prime minister said the Palestinian militant group had been given “a very generous offer of sustained 40-day ceasefire, the release of potentially thousands of Palestinian prisoners, in return for the release of these hostages.”

A Hamas delegation is due in Egypt on Monday, where it is expected to respond to the latest proposal for a truce in Gaza and a release of hostages after almost seven months of war in the enclave, which broke out after militants killed nearly 1,200 people in southern Israel on Oct. 7.

“I hope Hamas do take this deal and, frankly, all the pressure in the world and all the eyes of the world should be on them today saying take that deal,” Cameron said, adding the proposal would lead to a “stop in the fighting that we all want to see so badly.”

Egypt, Qatar and the US have been trying to mediate an agreement between Israel and Hamas for months, but a flurry of diplomacy in recent days appeared to suggest a new push toward halting hostilities.

The UK foreign minister said that for Palestinian statehood to become a reality, there needed to be a wholesale change in thinking on both the Israeli and Palestinian side.

For a “political horizon for a two-state solution,” with an independent Palestine co-existing with Israel, the “people responsible for Oct. 7, the Hamas leadership, would have to leave Gaza and you’ve got to dismantle the terrorist infrastructure in Gaza,” he said.

“You’ve got to see a political future for the Palestinian people, but you’ve also crucially got to see security for Israel, and those two things have to go together,” he added.

Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, who joined Cameron on the panel discussing what policymakers needed to do to rejuvenate global growth, went further and told the forum that the world could not focus on economic development unless it had peace.

“I want to make it very clear, the world will not be in peace unless there is a permanent peace in Gaza; I am speaking very frankly,” he said.

Sharif said the breakout of conflict between Russia and Ukraine had already given a warning of what conflict means for growth, adding that it caused commodity prices to skyrocket, inflation to soar, and impacted imports and exports of food and raw materials.

Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Economy and Planning, Faisal Alibrahim, echoed the Pakistani leader’s assertions, adding that current economic growth levels were lower than desired, and that increased productivity and global collaboration were the two keys to improving the situation.

“Productivity needs to see an upward shift,” he said. “We need to focus on the tools, the interventions, that will help us grow productivity.

“Secondly, (do we want) collaboration or fragmentation? A more fragmented world is a lower-growth world and with fragmentation comes a lot of cost. Without collaboration, we cannot achieve higher growth rates for the global economy.”

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