Hamas negotiations: Israeli cabinet weighs US proposal

Hamas negotiations: Israeli cabinet weighs US proposal

Report by Amal Shehadeh, English adaptation by Yasmine Jaroudi

After a delegation of mediators returned from Qatar to Israel on Saturday night, carrying more than one file with them, the Israeli cabinet is considering a US proposal presented by CIA Director Bill Burns.

The Israelis have tentatively agreed to the proposal and discussed other aspects related to the deal.

The American proposal includes a compromise regarding the number of Palestinian security prisoners in exchange for each female Israeli soldier. Hamas had requested the release of 30 security prisoners serving life sentences for each female soldier, while Israel has agreed to the US proposal to release five prisoners for each soldier.

Israeli security officials have suggested accepting Hamas’ proposal even if it exceeds five prisoners, contrasting with other Israeli calls not to meet Hamas’ conditions.

As for the other point concerning the return of residents to the northern Gaza Strip, it poses a new obstacle to progress in negotiations.

Hamas demands the return of displaced persons to their homes, while Israel rejects this and calls for a limited and gradual return to begin two weeks after the ceasefire, allowing only two thousand displaced persons to return each day.

Regarding Hamas’ demand for the withdrawal of the Israeli army from the Gaza Strip, it remains, for Israel, among the red lines that cannot be accepted.

The return of the delegation to Israel sparked internal debate. Some considered the demand a sign of a real crisis in negotiation, while others viewed Hamas as negotiating from a position of strength. This led to some Israeli cabinet members to call for intensifying the battle.

Israeli estimates indicate that Hamas will respond within 48 hours to Israel’s conditions. In the meantime, the army continues preparations to evacuate residents from Rafah and mobilize, awaiting the order to execute the operation.

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