Hamas says it 'positively' views Gaza ceasefire proposal set out by Biden

Smoke rises following an explosion in Gaza, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, near the Israel-Gaza border, as seen from Israel

GAZA (Reuters) -Palestinian Islamist group Hamas on Friday said it had a positive view of the contents of a three-phase ceasefire proposal announced by U.S. President Joe Biden for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza.

"Hamas confirms its readiness to deal positively and in a constructive manner with any proposal that is based on the permanent ceasefire and the full withdrawal [of Israeli forces] from the Gaza Strip, the reconstruction [of Gaza], and the return of the displaced to their places, along with the fulfilment of a genuine prisoner swap deal if the occupation clearly announces commitment to such deal," the group said in a statement.

Hamas' position signals a change in attitude from the group, which in recent months had accused the U.S. of siding with Israel and obstructing attempts for a ceasefire.

"Hamas sees Biden's position now more focused on pressuring Israel to return to negotiations with a different attitude, or they (Israel) could risk clashing with the Americans," a Palestinian official close to the mediation efforts told Reuters.

Rifts between Biden and Netanyahu over red lines in Gaza has set up a potential showdown between the two leaders, raising questions about whether the U.S. might restrict military aid if Israel continues its offensive in the now-devastated enclave.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said that Israel had authorized negotiators to present a Gaza truce deal after Biden revealed details of the ceasefire plan.

Palestinian health authorities estimate more than 36,280 people have been killed in Gaza since Israel attacked the enclave in response to an Oct. 7 Hamas assault in southern Israel. The Hamas attack killed around 1,200 people, according to Israeli tallies.

(Reporting by Nidal Al Mughrabi and Ahmed Tolba; Writing by Adam Makary; editing by Deepa Babington)