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Hamas weighing new hostage deal proposal despite initial rejection

Ben Gvir threatens to leave gov’t in case of ‘reckless’ deal

People attend a rally calling for the release of Israelis held kidnapped by Hamas terrorists in Gaza at "Hostage Square" in Tel Aviv, Jan. 27, 2024. (Photo: Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

Despite initial reports that Hamas had rejected the latest proposal for a deal to free Israeli hostages in return for incarcerated terrorists and a truce in the fighting, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said on Tuesday that the terror group would “study” the proposal before submitting a definitive answer.

Hamas’ priority is to stop “Israeli aggression” in the Gaza Strip and the withdrawal of Israel’s forces outside the Strip, Haniyeh said, adding, “The movement is open to any initiative and idea, provided that it leads to a complete cessation of hostilities.”

Haniyeh will travel to Egypt’s capital Cairo in the coming days for further discussion, Israeli media reported.

After a new proposal for a deal was drafted in Paris, France last weekend by representatives of Qatar, Egypt, the U.S. and Israel, Hamas initially appeared to reject it in a statement on Monday.

In a joint statement with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), Hamas said that Israel must completely break off its ground operation in the Gaza Strip before a deal could be agreed upon.

The first step of the proposed deal would see the release of 35 Israeli hostages in exchange for a truce of 45 days and the release of 100-250 convicted Palestinian terrorists per each Israeli hostage, as well as the increase of humanitarian aid, Israeli media reported.

On Monday evening, the Prime Minister’s Office issued a denial of the reported terms, which it said were “untrue and included terms that were not accepted by Israel.”

Despite this, several members of the government immediately voiced their opposition to the deal.

Israeli Finance Minister and Religious Zionism party chairman Bezalel Smotrich strongly rejected the condition of halting the ground operation, saying that “the mass release of terrorists will make every Jew in Israel and the world a target for kidnapping.”

Education Minister Yoav Kisch stated: “If indeed this is the plan, or a plan close to it… it is a plan of surrender to Hamas.”

National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir even threatened to leave the government if it would accept a “reckless” deal.

In an apparent direct response to Ben Gvir, opposition leader and Yesh Atid party head Yair Lapid on Tuesday announced he would “give the government a safety net for any deal that brings the hostages back home.”

Several Israeli media outlets interpreted this to mean that Yesh Atid would be willing to join Netanyahu's government in the event that the Religious Zionism and Jewish Power parties choose to leave if the new hostage deal is accepted.

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

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