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Hostage deal with Hamas? Conflicting reports over progress in Cairo hostage negotiations

Iran reportedly proposes to US: No retaliation for IRGC casualty in exchange for Gaza ceasefire

Demonstrators protest calling for the release of Israeli hostages held in the Gaza Strip outside Hakirya Base in Tel Aviv, March 26, 2024 ( Photo: Chaim Goldberg/Flash90).

Reports in Israeli media early Monday morning indicate that significant progress in a hostage release deal in Cairo may have been reached. 

N12 News reported “cautious optimism” regarding negotiations as the Israeli delegation returns from Egypt with the latest details. An Egyptian source reported that all sides are close to agreement on the terms of the final deal. The Egyptian state-affiliated Al-Qahera news channel reported that there was broad agreement on the basic points of a deal.

However, soon after those reports were published, a senior Israeli source told the news outlet that a deal may not be imminent, stating: “The distance is still great.” 

Several Israeli analysts also believe the announcement about the withdrawal of most IDF troops from Khan Younis is likely linked to the negotiations, demonstrating a willingness to soften, despite Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s insistence that the withdrawal was purely “operational.” 

According to N12, Netanyahu gave the Mossad-led negotiating team a broader mandate for negotiations and instructed them to listen to the new U.S. proposal. 

The United States allegedly presented a new proposal on Sunday evening, which demanded significant compromises from both Israel and Hamas. 

On Sunday evening, an unnamed Israeli official spoke with the Israeli Broadcast Authority, claiming that both Israel and Hamas demonstrated more flexibility in the most recent negotiations. The source also claimed that the U.S. is exerting more pressure on both sides to reach an agreement. 

However, on Monday morning, a Hamas official told Qatari's Al Jazeera news outlet that there had been no progress during negotiations. 

“The Israeli delegation has not responded to Hamas's requests to reach a form of a deal,” the official said. 

The delegations from Hamas and Qatar departed from Cairo and are expected to return within two days for discussions over the terms of a final agreement. 

The Israeli delegation departed Cairo on Monday and is expected to brief the War Cabinet later in the day. 

Meanwhile, a report in Jadeh Iran News quoted an unnamed source stating that Iran told the United States it would refrain from retaliating against Israel over the killing of IRGC senior commander Mohammed Zahedi if a ceasefire agreement is reached during negotiations.

Analysts from both Iran and Israel suggest that Iran is hesitant to retaliate against Israel, fearing such actions could lead to further escalation

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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