Israel studying latest Hamas response to Gaza ceasefire-hostage deal

Israel said Wednesday evening that it had received Hamas’s response to the latest truce-hostage deal outline, and would evaluate the document before replying.

A statement from the Mossad distributed by the Prime Minister’s Office said that mediators “have conveyed” to Israel’s negotiators “Hamas’s remarks on the outline of the hostages deal.”

“Israel is evaluating the remarks and will convey its reply to the mediators,” the brief statement added.

Hamas later confirmed that it had submitted its latest demands, issuing a statement that it is “eager to reach an agreement to stop the war, and our communication with the mediators continues.”

“We exchanged some ideas with the mediators with the goal of stopping the war and the full withdrawal from the Gaza Strip,” the terror group said, claiming that it is being flexible in its demands, while Israel is “trying to deceive and evade.”

In a later statement, Hamas said its Qatar-based politburo leader Ismail Haniyeh had spoken with mediators in Qatar and Egypt regarding the ideas being discussed. It added that talks have also been held with Turkish officials regarding recent developments.

“The movement dealt in a positive spirit with the content of the ongoing deliberations,” it said.

More than six months of negotiations carried out by mediators including the US, Qatar and Egypt have time and again failed to advance toward a deal that would see the release of the 116 hostages kidnapped on October 7 who are believed to remain captive in Gaza, a truce or ceasefire in fighting in Gaza, and the release of hundreds of Palestinian security prisoners.

The current version of the deal in play is based on a proposal made public at the end of May in a speech by President Joe Biden, built on a three-stage long-term Israeli outline. Yet more than a month later, the negotiations appear to have made little progress.

On June 11, Hamas submitted its response to the Israeli proposal, which the US went on to slam for including dozens of amendments, including some that went back on clauses Hamas had already agreed to and others that were deemed beyond the pale. On June 12, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said some of its changes were “not workable.”

In the weeks that followed, mediators worked to bring Hamas down on some of its demands — even as the State Department last week for the first time said Hamas had “rejected the proposal on the table” — leading to the new response submitted Wednesday by the terror group. A senior Israeli official said the new response was positive enough to allow for the negotiations to move forward after several weeks of deadlock.

According to the Israeli official, the updated Hamas offer brought the sides closer to a resolution regarding Clauses 8 and 14 of the Israeli proposal. Clause 8 of the hostage-truce deal concerns the negotiations between Israel and Hamas that would be held during the six-week phase one of the ceasefire deal. Clause 14 deals with the transition between stage one and stage two of the deal.

Israel has sought to keep the wording in these two clauses vague enough to allow it to resume fighting against Hamas in Gaza if it chooses, while Hamas has sought to ensure that Israel will not be able to resume fighting once the sides agree to the initial six-week phase one of the ceasefire deal.

The senior Israeli official clarified there were still significant gaps to bridge before an agreement could be reached, despite Hamas’s relatively positive response.



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