Hamas has reportedly proposed a multi-stage cease-fire over the course of four-and-a-half months that would see the release of living and dead Israeli hostages held in the Gaza Strip, the withdrawal of all Israeli troops and an agreement to end the war.
The U.S. and Israel are studying Hamas’s response, which was delivered Tuesday by Qatari officials, who characterized the negotiations as moving in a positive direction.
“The reply includes some comments but in general it is positive,” Qatar’s premier, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, said Tuesday, although President Biden had characterized Hamas’s response as “a little over the top.”
Secretary of State Antony Blinken, ahead of a meeting with Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday, said the U.S. is pushing to reach “an extended pause that gets hostages out, gets more assistance in, brings calm to Gaza’s civilians and keeps diplomacy moving forward toward an integrated and more secure region.”
Under the first phase of the deal, according to reports, a 45-day truce would see Hamas release all Israeli women hostages, males under 18, the elderly and sick, in exchange for Palestinian women and children and men over 50 held in Israeli jails and for Israel to withdraw its troops from populated areas.
Hamas is also calling for the release of 1,500 male Palestinian prisoners, and that the armed group, Hamas is also calling for the release of 1,500 male Palestinian prisoners, and that the armed group — which is designated a terrorist organization in the U.S. and Israel — would be able to choose 500 prisoners to be released who are serving long, or life-long sentences, The Washington Post reported. would be able to choose 500 prisoners to be released who are serving long or life sentences, The Washington Post reported.
On the humanitarian front, at least 500 aid trucks would be able to enter the strip daily, displaced Gazans should be able to return to their homes and exercise freedom of movement around the strip, more Palestinians should be transferred for medical treatment abroad and repairs would be made to hospitals in the strip, the Post reported.
A second phase of the deal would not start until the sides conclude indirect talks over ending both Israeli and Hamas military operations and “return to complete calm,” Reuters quoted the text as saying.
The second phase would include Hamas releasing the remaining male hostages and the full Israeli withdrawal from all of Gaza. Israeli bodies and the remains of those who died or were killed would be exchanged during the third phase, per Reuters.
Hamas is holding more than 100 hostages that it kidnapped from Israel during its Oct. 7 attack, with at least 32 hostages killed but their bodies or remains still in Gaza.
Hamas also holds two Israelis that crossed into the strip in previous years, and the bodies of two Israeli soldiers taken during the summer war in 2014.
Source: The Hill