Reports suggest that a deal brokered by Qatari mediators may soon be reached between Hamas and Israel. Though formal details are not confirmed, the potential agreement is anticipated to facilitate the release of hostages held by Hamas and the delivery of urgent aid to civilians in Gaza in exchange for a five day pause in fighting.
Regional sources cover the ongoing negotiations:
Al-Arabiya reports that on a statement made by Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh, who described officials as “close to reaching a truce agreement” with Israel through Qatari mediators. Though not confirming the imminence of a deal, White House spokesman John Kirby said of a potential accord that “we’re closer now than we’ve been before.”
Anadolu Agency writes that “Israeli authorities have given a green light for the completion of a prisoner swap deal,” according to Israeli public broadcaster KAN. They added that “‘now the ball is in Hamas’ court,’ and that if the group responds positively, a prisoner deal will be ‘achievable.’”
Though details on what the deal would entail have not been finalized, Hamas official Izzat el-Reshiq said that “the expected agreement will include the release of Israeli women and children hostages in exchange for release of Palestinian children and women in the occupation’s prisons,” as quoted by Haaretz.
According to Al-Jazeera’s sources, “53 Israeli captives would be released in exchange for about 150 Palestinian prisoners currently held by Israel” and “the release of captives held by Hamas would happen gradually over a period of four-to-five days.”
On Sunday, Daily Sabah noted that “Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dismissed the reports of an imminent hostage deal, emphasizing that no deal has been finalized.” They further said that “Israeli National Security Council head Tzachi Hanegbi recently stated that the war Cabinet has agreed that any limited cease-fire could only occur after ‘a massive release of our hostages.’ He added that it would be limited and short, as efforts would persist in achieving the war goals.”
Al-Ahram explains Qatar’s role in mediating the negotiations, saying that “Qatar has helped broker talks aiming to free some of the 240 captives in return for a temporary ceasefire, a mediation effort that has so far led to the release of four captives.” Speaking to stands between the parties and a finalized deal, Qatari PM Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani was quoted as telling Josep Borrell, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, that “the challenges that remain in the negotiations are very minor compared to the bigger challenges, they are more logistical, they are more practical.”
(Image: Emad El Byed)