(CNN) — Talks to bring about a ceasefire and hostage deal that could stop the war in Gaza were thrown into doubt Tuesday evening when Israel characterized a Hamas response to the latest proposal as a rejection, precipitating a blame game between the two sides.

Hamas had submitted its response to Qatari mediators, proposing amendments to the Israeli proposal, including a timeline for a permanent ceasefire and complete Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, a source with knowledge of the talks told CNN earlier on Tuesday.

Talks are expected continue via the Qatari and Egyptian mediators in coordination with the United States to see if an agreement can be reached, the source added.

After submitting its response Tuesday, Hamas spokesman and political bureau member Osama Hamdan told Lebanon-based TV Al Mayadeen, the group was committed to achieving a ceasefire. “Our response is a clear reaffirmation of our commitment to the ceasefire and withdrawal from Gaza, a commitment we have consistently upheld,” Hamdan added.

But in a potential sign of how Israel views the proposed amendments, one Israeli official described Hamas’ response to the original deal as a rejection.

“Israel received the Hamas answer from the mediators. In its response, Hamas rejected the outline of the deal for the release of the hostages presented by US President Biden,” the official told CNN. Other news organizations report the same initial Israeli response.

Hamas leadership quickly pushed back on the claim as an attempt to back out of the proposal.

“The response of Hamas and the Palestinian factions to the truce proposal was responsible, serious and positive. The response is consistent with the demands of our people and the resistance and opens the way to reaching an agreement,” said Izzat al-Rishq, a member of the Hamas political bureau, late on Tuesday.

“The Israeli media’s incitement to Hamas’s response is an indication of attempts to evade the agreement’s obligations.” 

The tensions are surfacing at a sensitive moment. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is currently on a diplomatic swing through the region trying to secure agreement on the plan first unveiled by President Biden eleven days ago.

The plan, drafted by Israel, has not been made public in full. Endorsed by the United Nations Security Council on Monday, the plan envisages a six-week ceasefire – during which Hamas would release hostages and Israel would release Palestinian prisoners – that would evolve into a permanent cessation of hostilities through negotiations.

The White House has been at pains to stress it is an Israeli plan and have repeatedly said that Israel has accepted it, despite objections from Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Mixed signals in Israel

Earlier Tuesday, Israel had made its clearest signal yet that it was poised to formally sign up to the plan – though in the same short statement it suggested it intended to maintain the freedom to keep fighting.

The short Israeli communication, attributed only to an Israeli government official, though widely understood to mean the Prime Minister’s Office, started with an assertion of Israel’s war aims before expressing support for the US-backed proposal currently on the table.

“Israel will not end the war before achieving all its war objectives: destroying Hamas’s military and governing capabilities, freeing all the hostages and ensuring Gaza doesn’t pose a threat to Israel in the future,” it said.

“The proposal presented enables Israel to achieve these goals and Israel will indeed do so,” the statement concluded. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s oft-repeated promise of total victory and the elimination of Hamas did not get a mention.

The Israeli leader is caught between the voices of many in his country, who believe a ceasefire deal is the best way to secure the release of the 120 hostages still held by Hamas in Gaza, and those of his extreme right coalition partners who are adamant they want the war to continue.

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich and National Security Miniter Itamar Ben Gvir have both threatened to collapse the government if Netanyahu agrees to the deal in its current form.

By contrast, senior opposition figures like one-time war cabinet member Benny Gantz, and opposition leader Yair Lapid have also been among those urging Netanyahu to embrace the US-backed plan.

Hamas has also been under pressure to get on board with the US-backed proposal but said last week it is concerned Israel might not go through with the second phase of the plan – a permanent end to the fighting.

“Unless there is a clear position [from Israel] to prepare for a permanent ceasefire and a total withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, which is what could open the door wide to completing the agreement … we cannot come to an agreement,” Hamas spokesman and political bureau member Osama Hamdan warned last week.

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