Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh giving a press conference in Qatar (video snippet)

Israel announced on Wednesday a significant development in the ongoing and highly sensitive negotiations with Hamas. The country received a formal response from Hamas concerning the latest proposal for a truce and the release of hostages. This momentous step forward is currently under meticulous review by Israeli officials, with further replies to be conveyed through international mediators.

In a carefully worded statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office and relayed through Mossad, it was revealed that international mediators had delivered Hamas’ comments on the proposed deal. “Israel is evaluating the remarks and will convey its reply to the mediators,” the statement read, highlighting the fragile and complex nature of these negotiations.

Hamas, in a parallel statement, confirmed the submission of its latest demands. A spokesperson for the group expressed a desire to halt the conflict, emphasizing ongoing communications with the mediators. “We are eager to reach an agreement to stop the war, and our communication with the mediators continues,” the Hamas statement outlined, while simultaneously accusing Israel of duplicity in the negotiation process and asserting its own flexibility.

An Israeli source familiar with the intricate details of the negotiations suggested that both Israel and Hamas are on the cusp of formulating a framework agreement for a ceasefire and hostage release deal. According to the source, Israeli officials are cautiously optimistic that Hamas’ latest response will pave the way for detailed negotiations aimed at reaching a comprehensive agreement.

Despite this cautious optimism, the source stressed that a finalized deal remains elusive and is far from guaranteed. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu must first authorize the transition into this next phase of negotiations. Even with this approval, several weeks of arduous discussions will be necessary to iron out the specifics of a potential agreement, including the identities of Palestinian prisoners to be released in exchange for Israeli hostages held by Hamas and the precise sequencing of these releases.

Over the coming days, Israeli negotiators are scheduled to convene with the nation’s political leadership, including Netanyahu, to decide on advancing to this detailed negotiation phase.

Hamas has reiterated its demands through mediators Qatar and Egypt, insisting on a complete ceasefire. “We have put forward some demands that achieve securing access to a complete ceasefire and the withdrawal of Israeli forces,” stated Basem Naim, a member of Hamas’ political bureau, during an interview with CNN.

In a subsequent statement on Wednesday, Hamas declared it had “exchanged some ideas” with mediators to halt what it termed “the aggression against our Palestinian people.” Hamas further noted that it has responded positively to the Israeli proposal.

Hamas political leader Ismail Haniyeh has been in extensive contact with mediators in Qatar and Egypt, engaging in prolonged discussions to reach an agreement to end the hostilities in Gaza. The organization also indicated ongoing communications with Turkish officials regarding recent developments.

Mossad, Israel’s intelligence service, which has been at the forefront of these negotiations, confirmed on Wednesday that Egyptian and Qatari mediators had delivered Hamas’ latest response to Israel. “Israel is evaluating the remarks and will convey its reply to the mediators,” Mossad stated, offering no additional details at this critical juncture.

This development comes against a backdrop of mounting pressure from the Hostage and Missing Families Forum, which issued a stark warning that millions of Israelis would take to the streets if the government fails to secure a deal for the release of the hostages. “The people of Israel show time and time again in every poll that they are in favor of a complete deal for the return of all hostages. We will not allow the government’s ministers to torpedo the deal again,” the forum stated.

The forum underscored the moral imperative facing the government, describing it as the highest moral test of its tenure. “The government is at the highest moral test of its tenure: the continuation of abandonment or a determined action for rescue and restoration,” the statement added. “It’s either the complete return of the hostages, or all Israeli citizens will be taking to the roads and intersections.”

As the world watches closely, the potential for a breakthrough in these fraught negotiations offers a glimmer of hope amidst a protracted and devastating conflict. However, the path to peace and resolution remains fraught with challenges, requiring steadfast determination and diplomacy from all parties involved.

Sign Up For The Judean Newsletter

I agree with the Terms and conditions and the Privacy policy