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Sinwar derailing Gaza truce talks to stir regional chaos on Ramadan, official says

Hamas leader in Gaza Yahya Sinwar is deliberately trying to sabotage cease-fire negotiations, aiming to provoke regional unrest across the Middle East during Ramadan, a senior Israeli official told Ynet on Sunday evening.

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“Sinwar prefers to escalate tensions in the Middle East, causing chaos and bloodshed on Ramadan, over the alternative of a six-week cease-fire and humanitarian aid that would significantly alleviate the suffering of Gaza’s local population,” the official said.

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יחיא סינוואריחיא סינוואר

Hamas leader in Gaza Yahya Sinwar

(Photo: Mohammed ABED / AFP)

Mossad Director David Barnea, who heads the Israeli delegation in Qatar for negotiations on a potential deal for the release of hostages held by Hamas, was informed by Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed Al-Thani that the terrorist group is refusing to provide an updated list of living hostages, nor the criteria for the release of Palestinian inmates from Israeli prisons.

Israel is seeking an updated list of hostages to distinguish between those alive and deceased, essential for initiating negotiations for a potential exchange. Without such a list would pose multiple obstacles that would risk the deal’s collapse.

Previously, an agreed-upon list facilitated a successful framework, leading to the release of many hostages, though it fell apart when Hamas refused to release the remaining women and children.

Additionally, Israel is demanding Hamas’ terms for a prisoner exchange, specifically, the number of hostages considered vulnerable it is willing to release, such as women, the chronically ill, the elderly and female soldiers.

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העברת החטופות במעבר רפיחהעברת החטופות במעבר רפיח

Israeli hostages transported out of Gaza by the Red Cross during the previous cease-fire, November 2023

(Photo: REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa)

Mediators have stressed the importance of Hamas providing answers to avoid leaving these issues unresolved, even if the terror group does not accept the framework agreed upon at a recent summit in Paris.

They urged Hamas to propose any figure, even if “far from reality,” to kickstart negotiations. The mediators also cautioned Hamas that offering a content-less response could lead to a breakdown of talks.

Hamas’s response has led to a complete halt in negotiations. A unanimous agreement exists among the Israeli security cabinet and senior security officials that sending an Israeli delegation to Cairo or Qatar is futile without a concrete basis for dialogue. Israel will not engage or dispatch delegations as long as Hamas continues to withhold details and impede progress.

There is a consensus among members of Israel’s War Cabinet and senior security officials that sending an Israeli delegation to Cairo or Qatar is futile without such a list that would serve as a concrete basis for dialogue and Israel will not engage or dispatch negotiation teams as long as Hamas continues to withhold these details.

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בנימין נתניהו לראשי רשויות ישובי העוטף בקבינט בבסיס פיקוד דרוםבנימין נתניהו לראשי רשויות ישובי העוטף בקבינט בבסיס פיקוד דרום

War Cabinet meeting at Southern Command HQ

(Photo: GPO)

Meanwhile, London-based Arabic newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat quotes an Egyptian source as saying that efforts to reach an agreement were ongoing, with the current round of discussions in Cairo aimed at “overcoming obstacles and implementing a cease-fire before Ramadan, according to a framework acceptable to both sides.”

The source noted that Cairo, in coordination with Qatar and the U.S., is making “intensive efforts.”

“The negotiation rounds since the framework agreement in Paris have not been easy,” the source said. “There were many obstacles – but now all points of agreement are on the table.”

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