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Hamas appears to reject new hostage deal offer, insists on full pullout of Israeli soldiers

TEL AVIV: Hamas seems to have rejected a proposed framework for a hostage deal with Israel, asserting it will not accept any agreement if the withdrawal of all Israeli troops from Gaza is not included, The Times of Israel

reported.

The rejection came after Israel reportedly agreed to the plan during negotiations in Paris, aiming to secure the release of hostages held by the militant group.

Hamas, along with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, issued a joint statement insisting that any agreement must include an end to the ongoing conflict and a complete withdrawal of Israeli troops from Gaza. The group emphasised that Israel must cease its “aggression” before any exchange deal can be considered, as reported by The Times of Israel.

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, crafted during a meeting involving heads of the Mossad and Shin Bet

intelligence agencies along with US, Qatari, and Egyptian officials, outlines a phased process.

The deal would involve the release of all 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.

According to the deal, Israel would also allow more aid into Gaza and would release very large numbers of Palestinian prisoners.

The Times of Israel, citing Channel 12 news, reported that the offer centres around a 45-day pause in the fighting in exchange for 35-40 hostages in the first stage. Around 100-250 Palestinian prisoners will be released for every hostage. This will be followed by further releases in exchange for an extension of the truce and a larger ratio of Palestinian security prisoner releases for each hostage.

The framework reportedly does not establish a permanent ceasefire but leaves the possibility open. The agreement also includes provisions for increased humanitarian aid into Gaza and the release of a substantial number of Palestinian prisoners.

While Qatar’s Prime Minister Mohamed bin Abdulrahman Al Thexpressed optimism about progress in negotiations, stating that Hamas had potentially shifted its stance, Israel remains cautious. The Israeli Prime Minister’s Office issued a statement neither confirming nor denying the existence of a deal but noted that the reports included conditions “not acceptable to Israel.”

Israeli officials told The Times of Israel on Monday that they are being cautious. “There is still a long road ahead,” one official said.

“We are in a much better place than we were a few weeks ago,” Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani

said at the Atlantic Council in Washington, DC.

“Yesterday, good progress was made to get things back in shape and at least to lay a foundation for the way forward,” the Qatari PM added, saying the proposal would be relayed to Hamas.

Al Thani also said that an agreement might lead to a permanent ceasefire “in the future.”

The situation remains fluid, with conflicting statements from both sides, and the war cabinet in Israel is scheduled to meet to discuss the ongoing negotiations.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

‘s office confirmed a four-way meeting involving the US, Israel, Qatar, and Egypt to discuss a potential deal with Hamas. The talks were deemed “constructive,” but there are still significant gaps to be addressed in subsequent meetings.

“There are still significant gaps that the sides will discuss this week in additional meetings,” the PMO added.

CIA Director Bill Burns discussed the emerging agreement with David Barnea, the head of the Mossad intelligence agency, Qatar’s Al Thani and Egyptian intelligence chief Abbas Kamel.

It’s believed that 132 hostages abducted by Hamas on October 7 are still held in Gaza.

Hamas demands an end to the war and IDF withdrawal as conditions for their release, terms Israel rejects.

The war erupted on October 7, after Hamas-led terrorists from the Gaza Strip carried out a massive attack on Israel that killed nearly 1,200 people, mostly civilians.

Hamas and other terrorists also abducted 253 people of all ages, mostly civilians, into Gaza.

This was followed by a military campaign by Israel in Gaza which killed at least 26,637 people and 65,387 wounded.

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.

The IDF confirmed 28 deaths among those still held by Hamas, The Times of Israel reported.

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