Israel, Hamas to renew hostage talks, report says

In a 90-day, three-phase plan, US, Egypt and Qatar propose a gradual strategy for total Gaza withdrawal; internal power struggles in Hamas hamper talks

The U.S., Egypt and Qatar are pushing Israel and Hamas to join a phased diplomatic process that would start with a release of hostages and, eventually, lead to a withdrawal of Israeli forces and an end to the war in Gaza, the Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday, citing diplomats involved in mediating the talks.
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According to the report, the new proposal, which includes steps conflicting with the publicly stated positions of both Israel and Hamas, has not been accepted by either party. Taher Al-Nono, a media adviser for Hamas, said that there has been no real progress, and Israeli officials didn’t respond to a request for comment.
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הלחימה ברצועת עזה
הלחימה ברצועת עזה
Widespread destruction in the Gaza Strip
The Journal further reported sources familiar with the negotiations indicate that Israel and Hamas are open to resuming discussions after weeks of stalled talks following the expiration of the most recent cease-fire on November 30. These ongoing talks are scheduled to progress in Cairo in the upcoming days.
The proposed mediation plan reportedly spans 90 days, starting with a temporary cease-fire for an unspecified duration. This initial phase requires Hamas to release all Israeli civilian hostages. Subsequently, Israel would release hundreds of Palestinian prisoners, withdraw its forces from Gaza's urban areas, allow freedom of movement within the strip, cease drone surveillance and double the humanitarian aid entering the territory, as outlined in the plan.
In the second phase, Hamas is to release Israeli female soldiers and return the remains of deceased soldiers, while Israel agrees to free additional Palestinian prisoners. The third phase involves Hamas releasing Israeli soldiers and males of fighting age, whom Hamas considers soldiers, as stated by Egyptian officials. Meanwhile, Israel would reposition some of its forces outside the current borders of the Gaza Strip.
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תיעוד מתקיפות לוחמי זרוע הים ברצועת עזה
תיעוד מתקיפות לוחמי זרוע הים ברצועת עזה
IDF forces in Gaza
(Photo: IDF Spokesperson's Unit)
The Wall Street Journal now reports that internal struggles within Hamas are complicating efforts to advance a comprehensive deal. Egyptian sources who spoke to the newspaper said that Hamas leader in Gaza Yahya Sinwar, who is believed to be hiding in tunnels alongside at least some hostages, has not directly communicated with Ismail Haniyeh, the head of Hamas' political bureau based in Qatar, for an entire month.
In a separate report, The Journal reported, citing U.S. intelligence sources, that despite aggressive and prolonged fighting in the Gaza Strip and declarations of degrading the terror organization, the IDF has eliminated only 20%-30% of Hamas’ force.
Furthermore, the U.S. intelligence community additionally estimates that Hamas still possesses significant amounts of ammunition and combat capability - both for the ongoing war with the IDF in the Gaza Strip and for launching attacks against civilians in Israel.
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