Israeli Negotiators Head to Qatar for Cease-Fire Talks, Officials Say

Israeli negotiators arrived in Qatar on Monday to participate in a new round of in-person talks aimed at achieving a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip and the release of hostages held by Palestinian militants, a senior Israeli official said.

The trip to the Qatari captial, Doha, by a delegation headed up by the head of Mossad, Israel’s foreign intelligence agency, comes after Israel and Hamas failed to reach an agreement ahead of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which began last week.

Two senior Israeli officials said the government had initially given its negotiating team an amorphous mandate. The team has now been authorized to go deeper into details during the talks, they said, but wasn’t given the full latitude it had requested. The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to communicate with the news media.

A meeting was scheduled to take place on Monday involving the Israelis, Egyptian officials and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani of Qatar, according to a person with knowledge of the talks, who requested anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak publicly. Qatar and Egypt have acted as intermediaries, in part because negotiators for Israel and Hamas do not talk directly with each other.

The Israeli officials said the broad proposal being discussed includes a 42-day pause in the fighting in exchange for the release of 40 of more than 100 hostages taken from Israel and held in Gaza by Hamas or its allies. But they emphasized that they expected reaching an agreement to take a long time.

A senior official in Hamas’s political office did not respond to a request for comment.

On Thursday, Hamas presented a new proposal that omitted a previous demand that Israel immediately agree to a permanent cease-fire in return for beginning an exchange of hostages and Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails, according to people familiar with the negotiations.

The Israeli officials said Hamas’s new proposal included details that were unacceptable to Israel.

For months, Hamas leaders have been publicly calling for a comprehensive cease-fire and complete Israeli withdrawal from Gaza. Israeli officials have repeatedly rejected the demands and indicated that they would be open to only a temporary pause.

Hamas officials have also called for the return of displaced Palestinians to their homes and for more aid to reach the territory.

Palestinians grappling with displacement and hunger have grown frustrated that Israel and Hamas still have not reached a deal, and the families of hostages have raised concerns about the fate of their relatives months into captivity.

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