Israeli delegation to leave for Qatar talks on hostage deal

Mediators say Hamas has made some concessions in their position although terrorist group's officials say they insist on the IDF's complete withdrawal of troops from Gaza and ending the war

An Israeli delegation is set to travel to Qatar to participate in negotiations for a hostage release deal after the war cabinet was updated on the talks held in Paris on Friday and received a briefing from the negotiating officials.
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While Israel and the U.S. show cautious optimism for the framework for a hostage deal with Hamas outlined by Egypt in the recent Paris talks, senior Hamas officials expressed caution on Saturday on a potential agreement with Israel — even amid reports the terror organization has made some concessions in their demands — and said their condition for Israel to conclude the war in Gaza still stands.
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Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar
(Photo: AP, Retuers/Amir Cohen)
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh’s media consultant Taher al-Nono claimed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu "wants to continue the war even if it goes against Israeli interests." He added that Hamas continues to demand the end of the war and the withdrawal of IDF forces from the Gaza Strip.
"It’s impossible to talk about a temporary cease-fire without stopping the war, route the occupation, and delivering humanitarian aid, and we won’t concede those terms," he said. "We have not yet reached the stage of discussing prisoner exchanges," he added.
"The enemy has crafted a narrative about negotiation that we have nothing to do with," said senior Hamas official Mahmoud al-Mardawi in an interview with the Iran-aligned Lebanese outlet Al-Mayadeen network on Saturday.
"We have so far been told nothing by the mediators about what’s proposed in Paris, so that we may assess and base our position on." He claimed that "all attempts by the enemy to achieve what it failed to during the ground operation on the negotiation table have failed."
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מפגן צבאי בעזה
מפגן צבאי בעזה
Hamas terrorists in Gaza
(Photo: EPA)
According to a report in Al Arabiya, a Hamas source claimed that 15 Palestinian prisoners serving lengthy sentences will be released for every Israeli hostage who isn't an IDF soldier per day of pause in the fighting. The source added that the first stage of the deal would include the release of "all Israelis who aren't soldiers."
An Egyptian official said that the mediators are waiting for Israel's official response to the proposal. According to him, the proposal will allow hundreds of aid trucks to enter Gaza daily, including to the Strip’s north. He added that both sides will agree that during the cease-fire talks, discussions will continue for the release of additional hostages and a permanent stop to the war.

The new deal's framework

According to the agreed outline of the deal, Israel and Hamas will engage in negotiations for a hostage release deal and a cease-fire. According to reports, the first stage of the deal will be a humanitarian one - meaning the release of 35 to 40 children, women, the elderly (over 60), and the sick from captivity. Israel is pressuring mediators to include female IDF soldiers held hostage in the humanitarian deal.
In exchange for the release of the captives, Israel will agree to a several-week-long cease-fire without committing to ending the war. The mediators hope to use the cease-fire to conduct further negotiations for a larger hostage deal that will extend the current cease-fire and be implemented "back-to-back" – following the first deal.
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 פעילות צה"ל ברצועת עזה
 פעילות צה"ל ברצועת עזה
IDF soldiers in Gaza
(Photo: IDF Spokesperson's Unit)
The previous hostage deal also began with the release of 50 Israeli hostages and concluded with the release of over 100. The mediators hope to finalize all details within the next two weeks so that the deal can be concluded before Ramadan, which begins on March 10.
During the negotiations, the parties will discuss the deal’s terms and details, including the key issues for releasing Palestinian prisoners.
Israel insists that priority will be given to releasing Israeli women and children agreed on during the previous deal, meaning that three Palestinian prisoners will be released per Israeli hostage - but agrees that the number of prisoners in the case of the sick and male hostages will be altered. It’s estimated that a few hundred terrorists will be released in total during the deal - but fewer than the number Hamas demanded initially.
During the negotiations, the parties will discuss the IDF’s withdrawal lines in Gaza, with Hamas demanding Gazans return to their homes in the northern part of the Strip. Israel is expected to show flexibility here, possibly allowing the return of women and children to northern Gaza. Similar to the previous deal, Hamas demands that Israel refrain from operating drones and aircraft over Gaza during the cease-fire.
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