US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Friday that it remained up to Hamas to accept a ceasefire with Israel, as hopes dimmed for a new truce in the five-month-old war.

“The issue is Hamas,” Blinken said, a day after President Joe Biden called in his State of the Union address for an “immediate” six-week truce that would allow humanitarian aid into war-ravaged Gaza and free hostages.

“The ball is in their court. We’re working intensely on it,” Blinken said as he met Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan.

“But there’s no doubt in my mind that getting to this ceasefire with the release of hostages would be a profound benefit to everyone involved,” he said.

Mediators had been scrambling to lock in a truce before the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which is set to begin as early as Sunday depending on the lunar calendar.

On Thursday, Hamas’s delegation voiced dissatisfaction with Israeli responses to its demands and left the latest round of talks in Cairo for consultations with the movement’s leadership in Qatar.

With AFP