The New York Times quoted American officials yesterday evening, Saturday, as saying that the mediators were close to reaching an agreement in which Israel would suspend its war on… Gaza strip for approximately two months in exchange for the release of more than 100 prisoners still held by the Islamic Resistance Movement (agitation), an agreement that could be concluded in the next two weeks.
The officials told the newspaper that the negotiators have drawn up a draft of the agreement that combines the proposals of Hamas and Israel that were presented in the last ten days, and talks are being held in Paris on Sunday between CIA Director William Burns and Israeli, Egyptian and Qatari officials. While there are still important differences to be resolved, Negotiators are cautiously optimistic that a final agreement is within reach, according to US officials who insisted on anonymity.
The agreement that will be reached will be more broad in scope than before, and its first phase will include a 30-day cessation of fighting in exchange for the release of women, the elderly, and wounded detainees, while the number of Palestinians who will be released from Israeli prisons still needs to be negotiated, according to the same source.
The newspaper also quoted American officials as saying that Israel and Hamas will work during the first phase to develop the details of the second phase to release the soldiers hostages.
Paris and Washington discussions
Qatari Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdul Rahman Al Thani is scheduled to go to the French capital, Paris, during which he will join talks with the participation of the United States, Egypt and Israel to try to reach an agreement on the release of detainees in the Gaza Strip.
The Qatari official is expected to then head to Washington as part of his tour to discuss a new prisoner exchange agreement and a ceasefire in Gaza. According to the American newspaper Al-Monitor, the Qatari Prime Minister and Foreign Minister will meet with senior members of the US administration and senior legislators.
On Friday, the White House expressed its hope that progress would be made in talks to release detainees, and White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said that President Biden discussed with the Emir of Qatar. Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani And the Egyptian president Abdel Fattah Sisi Latest developments in Israel and Gaza including ongoing efforts to release detainees in the Strip.
President Biden spoke by phone separately on Friday with the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani And the Egyptian president Abdel Fattah Sisi To narrow remaining differences, Burns will also be sent to Paris for talks on Sunday with Israeli, Egyptian and Qatari officials. If Burns makes enough progress, Biden may send his Middle East coordinator, Brett McGurk, who has just returned to Washington, to the region to help finalize the agreement.
In a statement in Israel on Saturday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated his commitment to ensuring the release of those detainees who were not released as part of a limited agreement last November. He said, “To date, we have returned 110 of our hostages and we are committed to returning them all.” “We are dealing with this and we are doing it around the clock.”
Israeli Channel 12 previously reported Hamas’ conditions for a new prisoner exchange deal:
100 Palestinian prisoners for every Israeli prisoner. Complete withdrawal of the Israeli army from the Gaza Strip. A lull of 10-14 days before the release of any Israeli prisoner. A lull of two months between each stage of the deal.
On October 7, Hamas launched an attack on Israeli military points and settlements around the Gaza Strip, during which about 1,200 Israelis were killed, about 5,431 were injured, and at least 239 were captured, of whom Israel recovered about 105 in an exchange and temporary truce deal with Hamas that lasted 7 days. It ended in early December 2023.
Since that day, the Israeli occupation army has been waging a devastating war on the Gaza Strip, which left more than 26,000 martyrs, most of them women and children, according to the Ministry of Health in the Strip, and caused massive destruction and an unprecedented humanitarian disaster, according to the United Nations.