In a recent development, senior Hamas officials have turned down a proposed framework for a hostage deal with Israel. The rejection, as reported by The Times of Israel, is based on Hamas’s insistence that any agreement must include the complete withdrawal of Israeli troops from Gaza.
The rejection follows negotiations in Paris, where Israel reportedly agreed to the plan in an attempt to secure the release of hostages held by the militant group. Hamas, in collaboration with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, issued a joint statement emphasizing the need for an end to the ongoing conflict and the full withdrawal of Israeli troops from Gaza. The group stated that Israel must cease its aggression before any exchange deal can be considered.
A senior Hamas official expressed the group’s desire for a “complete and comprehensive ceasefire” in Gaza, a condition that seemingly contradicts earlier demands for an immediate end to hostilities.
The proposed agreement, discussed in a meeting involving intelligence agencies and officials from the US, Qatar, and Egypt, outlines a phased process. It involves the release of Israeli hostages, starting with vulnerable groups such as women, children, the elderly, and the sick. “Phased pauses” in Israel’s offensive against Hamas would occur during the hostage release process.
The reported offer suggests a 45-day pause in the fighting in exchange for 35-40 hostages in the first stage, with subsequent releases tied to an extension of the truce and a larger ratio of Palestinian security prisoner releases for each hostage.
Despite optimism expressed by Qatar’s Prime Minister, Mohamed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, Israel remains cautious. The Israeli Prime Minister’s Office neither confirmed nor denied the existence of a deal, noting that the reported conditions are “not acceptable to Israel.”
While there is potential progress, Israeli officials urge caution, stating, “There is still a long road ahead.” The situation remains fluid, with conflicting statements from both sides. The war cabinet in Israel is scheduled to meet and discuss the ongoing negotiations.
CIA Director Bill Burns discussed the emerging agreement with intelligence officials from Israel, Qatar, and Egypt. The talks are deemed “constructive,” but significant gaps still need addressing in subsequent meetings.
Hamas, holding 132 hostages since October 7, demands an end to the war and IDF withdrawal as conditions for their release, terms Israel rejects. The war erupted after Hamas-led terrorists carried out a massive attack on Israel, resulting in casualties and abductions.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faces pressure from hostage families, with rallies in Tel Aviv calling for a deal. About 100 hostages were released in November under a ceasefire deal, with 28 deaths confirmed among those still held by Hamas, as reported by The Times of Israel.