The Israel-Hamas hostage deal talks were paused

The New York Times

Talks for a hostage deal and cease-fire between Israel and Hamas have paused — in part because of the ongoing fighting in Rafah, according to two people familiar with the negotiations.
Hamas is still willing to negotiate a deal but has largely stepped back from the table because of Israel’s operation in the city, the people said.
The people stressed that this does not mean talks have broken down completely.
But his departure without a deal in hand raises questions about how the ongoing fighting in Rafah will impact the talks in the coming days.
U.S. officials had been pushing to reach a deal before fighting intensified even more in Rafah — which now appears unlikely.
That deal called for the release of women and children hostages as well as elderly hostages and those who are in need of immediate medical care.
Hamas said recently it does not have 40 hostages that fit in that category, signaling that some may have died in captivity.
On Monday, Hamas announced that it had accepted a cease-fire deal, but Israel said the terms Hamas agreed to were far from meeting its demands and that the IDF would move forward with its operation in Rafah.


According to two persons familiar with the negotiations, talks between Israel and Hamas for a cease-fire and hostage agreement have stalled, partly due to the ongoing fighting in Rafah.

The sources claimed that although Hamas has mainly withdrawn from talks as a result of Israel’s operation in the city, it is still open to striking a deal. Both were given the right to remain anonymous so they could talk openly about the discussions.

The people stressed that this does not mean talks have broken down completely. Doha has received a message from Hamas indicating its willingness to continue talks. The U.S. s. has representatives in the area to take part in upcoming discussions, but all of the individuals who were a part of the recent negotiations have departed, they claimed.

After days of attempting to broker a deal that would establish a temporary cease-fire and permit the release of dozens of hostages from Gaza as well as possibly hundreds of Palestinian prisoners from Israel, CIA Director Bill Burns was returning to Washington on Thursday.

According to one of the people familiar with the negotiations, Burns was always expected to return to Washington at the end of this week. However, his leaving without a signed agreement begs the question of how the current fighting in Rafah will affect the negotiations in the days ahead.

John Kirby, the spokesperson for the National Security Council, informed reporters on Thursday that “his departure does not connote the end of the current round of negotiations.”. “We’re going to keep trying in the hopes that we could succeed in landing something. “.

It’s unclear when official negotiations between Burns and other top leaders will pick back up, especially since the fighting in Rafah doesn’t appear to be abating.

U. S. Authorities had been attempting to negotiate a settlement prior to further fighting in Rafah, but it now doesn’t seem likely.

Prior to this break, negotiators were having difficulty bringing disparate proposals from each side together.

At the end of April, Israel offered Hamas a revised agreement that called for the release of 900 Palestinian prisoners, 200 more than had been suggested in the previous plan. A crucial request from Hamas was fulfilled when Israel consented to permit Gazans to move to the enclave’s northern region.

The agreement stipulated the release of elderly captives, women, and children as well as those in urgent need of medical attention. The agreement called for the hostages to be freed in phases. Recently, Hamas declared that it does not have 40 hostages that meet that description, implying that some of them may have passed away while being held captive.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken referred to the proposal as “extraordinarily generous on the part of Israel” and urged Hamas to accept the agreement at a World Economic Forum event in Riyadh on April 29.

When Hamas declared on Monday that it had agreed to a cease-fire, Israel countered that the terms Hamas had agreed to fell well short of its demands and that the IDF would continue its operation in Rafah.

In an effort to potentially prolong the cease-fire, the Biden administration has been pressuring Israel and Hamas to accept a six-week cease-fire for several months.

The general parameters of the agreement, which called for Israel to free the Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Hamas supervising the release of numerous hostages, have been known for a while. Together, the parties decided to permit more aid to enter Gaza.

Nonetheless, there was months of back and forth between Israel and Hamas regarding the number of prisoners compared to hostages and the extent of Hamas’s northern access.

U. S. Up to four Americans may still be detained in Gaza, according to prior statements from officials. However, there aren’t many specifics about their situation. If hostages are released, it’s unclear if the remains of those who passed away while being detained in Gaza will be transferred outside the confines.

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