If Israel and Hamas agree that a month-long ceasefire in Gaza could allow the release of Israeli hostages and Palestinian prisoners, the two camps disagree over the measures that must be taken to ensure a lasting end to the conflict. Fighting, sources familiar with the negotiations said this Tuesday, January 23rd.
According to several sources, Israel and Hamas are trying to reach an agreement on a month-long ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, particularly on the release of hostages. However, discrepancies remain. According to three sources, these differences are currently preventing the conclusion of a ceasefire agreement led by Qatar, the United States and Egypt, which are leading intensive mediation efforts.
Doha, Washington and Cairo are trying to push through a phased plan that calls for the release of Israeli hostages in stages – first the civilians, then the soldiers – in return for a break in the fighting and the release of Palestinians held in Israeli prisons and the arrival of additional help in the Gaza Strip.
The latest round of talks, which began on December 28, brought positions closer over an initial ceasefire of around 30 days, one of the sources said. The official familiar with the discussions noted that Hamas had initially proposed a pause in fighting for several months. Since then, however, Hamas has refused to validate a ceasefire agreement until the terms of a permanent ceasefire are agreed, six sources said.
Another source – a Palestinian official close to the talks – said Israel wanted to negotiate step by step, while Hamas sought a “comprehensive agreement”, including a permanent ceasefire, before the hostages were released as part of a first phase of that agreement. Discussions between the two camps take place indirectly through mediators. There was no immediate comment from the U.S. State Department, the Qatari foreign ministry and the Egyptian government.
Hamas wants guarantees
A White House spokesman said Tuesday that U.S. Middle East envoy Brett McGurk was again in the region to discuss the release of the hostages, adding that Washington supported a “long-term humanitarian pause.”
Two Egyptian security sources said they were trying to persuade Hamas to agree to a month-long ceasefire, which would be followed by a permanent ceasefire agreement. The Palestinian group that controls the Gaza Strip wants guarantees for the implementation of this second phase before committing to a ceasefire, these two sources added, without providing details on the guarantees demanded.
Five sources said Israel refuses to discuss ending the Gaza war without first dismantling Hamas, while the Jewish state repeats that its goal is to shut down the Palestinian group by April 7 in response to the attack To “destroy” October. A senior Hamas source said one of Israel's offers was to end the war in exchange for six of the group's leaders, including Hamas' Gaza leader Yahya Sinouar and the mastermind of the Oct. 7 attack, Mohamed al- Deif.
This proposal was strongly rejected by Hamas, this source said. When asked about this proposal and the talks overall, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office declined to comment. According to a recording “leaked” by Israeli media N12, Benjamin Netanyahu stated that this “surrender” scenario was discussed in early January.
During a press conference on Tuesday, the Israeli government spokesman said efforts were underway to secure the release of the hostages. Eylon Levy added that Israel would not accept an agreement that would allow Hamas to remain in power in the Gaza Strip.