Next Hours are Vital – Latest Updates on Gaza Ceasefire Talks

Hamas leader Yahia Sinwar and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (Image: Palestine Chronicle)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff  

Israel’s Channel 13 quoted an Israeli official as saying that Tel Aviv has not yet received a response from the Palestinian Resistance Movement Hamas regarding a possible prisoner exchange deal between the two sides and that it expects a response from Qatar within the coming hours.

The details of the agreement were drafted last weekend at a meeting in Paris attended by CIA Director William Burns and officials from Egypt, Israel and Qatar.

Ismail Haniyeh, head of Hamas’ political bureau, announced last Tuesday that the movement had received the deal proposal, which was circulated as part of efforts to stop the war on Gaza, and that the movement was studying it.

Israel’s Channel 13 reported that there was optimism that the deal could be moved forward, although the announcement that it could start as early as next week was premature, the Israeli official said.

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In the same context, Haniyeh is expected to arrive on Thursday in Egypt to discuss the draft of the new truce agreement, while US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will return “in the coming days” to the region, a US official said, without specifying which countries he will visit.

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According to a Hamas source, cited by Al-Jazeera, the group is considering a three-phase proposal. The first stage provides for a six-week truce, during which Israel would have to release 200 to 300 Palestinian prisoners.

In exchange, Hamas will commit to releasing 35 to 40 Israeli detainees, in addition to bringing 200 to 300 humanitarian aid trucks into Gaza on a daily basis.

Hamas and other Palestinian Resistance groups demand a full ceasefire as a precondition for any agreement, while the Israeli government talks about a truce in the fighting and refuses to halt its operation in Gaza.

‘Israel’s Position’ 

Meanwhile, Israel’s Channel 12 reported that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the prisoners’ families that he is willing to approve a deal that would not harm Israel’s security, even if it led to the collapse of his government.

The channel confirmed that the initiative, which was discussed at the Paris meeting, provides for a day of calm, in exchange for the release of each Israeli prisoner, followed by a week during which negotiations will take place on the next stage.

Israeli media also said that the Israeli side is considering the release of prisoners of ‘high caliber’, who were captured during the war, during the first phase of the exchange deal.

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The channel reported that Mossad chief David Barnea unveiled to the Israeli War Council a “document of principles” outlining the deal, which includes in the first phase the release of 35 Israeli detainees in the Gaza Strip, including women, the wounded and the elderly, in exchange for a 35-day truce.

“It is then possible to extend the truce for an additional week, in order to hold negotiations on the possibility of completing the second phase of the deal, which includes the release of young men and all those Hamas describes as soldiers.”

“The essence of the dispute on the Israeli side is not necessarily the number of security prisoners (Palestinian political prisoners) that Israel will be forced to release from prisons, but their quality,” the channel said.

‘Red Lines’ 

Netanyahu stressed that efforts are continuing to reach a new prisoner exchange deal, but indicated that it will not take place “at any cost,” adding in a video posted on Wednesday that he has red lines, including: not stopping the war, not withdrawing army forces from the Gaza Strip, and not releasing thousands of Palestinian prisoners.

“We are working to release our abductees, eliminate Hamas, and ensure that Gaza no longer poses a threat. We are working to achieve all three goals together, and we will not give up any of them.”

Commenting on this position, the Israel Broadcasting Corporation (KAN) quoted officials involved in the prisoner exchange negotiations as saying that Netanyahu’s remarks were “harmful” and he may seek to “make the deal fail.”

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An Israeli official familiar with the negotiations also expressed fears that Netanyahu would push Hamas to “blow up the deal.”

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz quoted the unnamed official as saying there were fears “that the aim of the extremism in Netanyahu’s statements in recent days is to encourage Hamas to harden its positions and torpedo the deal.”

“Such a move could allow Israel to continue fighting, while holding Hamas responsible for the failure of the talks.”

According to Gaza’s Ministry of Health, 26,900 Palestinians have been killed, and 65,949 wounded in Israel’s ongoing genocide in Gaza starting on October 7. 

Palestinian and international estimates say that the majority of those killed and wounded are women and children.

(AJA, PC, Israeli Media)

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