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Hostage deal progress as Hamas drops demand for Israel to commit to end of war

Hamas wants written guarantees from mediators that Israel will continue to negotiate after first stage of truce

Supporters of Hamas Leader Yahya Sinwar demonstrate outside his home in Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip, May 7, 2022. (Photo: Attia Muhammed/Flash90)

The terrorist organization Hamas has given initial approval to the hostage deal presented by U.S. President Joe Biden in May, Reuters and the Associated Press reported on Saturday.

Hamas will no longer insist Israel commit to a permanent ceasefire before implementing the deal, which would effectively end the war, a senior Hamas source told Reuters.

However, a Hamas and an Egyptian official told AP that Hamas is demanding “written guarantees” from mediators that Israel will continue negotiations aimed at a permanent truce once the first phase of the three-stage plan goes underway.

The mediators provided Hamas with “verbal commitments and guarantees” that the war would not resume after the first stage and that talks would continue until a final agreement was reached, according to AP. “Now we want these guarantees on paper,” a Hamas official said.

Under the proposal presented by Biden and to which Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has publicly committed, the first stage would see the release of several hostages, including women, the elderly and the wounded, in exchange for the release of hundreds of convicted Palestinian terrorists during a six-week ceasefire.

The IDF would withdraw its forces from densely populated areas in Gaza and allow the return of Palestinians to their homes during this period.

The second stage of the deal would include negotiations about the release of the remaining hostages in exchange for more terrorists, while the third phase would conclude the exchanges and begin discussions about the long-term rehabilitation of the Gaza Strip.

While Netanyahu did not respond to the reports during the Jewish Sabbath, his office confirmed that the Mossad Director David Barnea had returned from Qatar just before the start of the Sabbath on Friday evening.

“The Director of the Mossad returned a short while ago from Doha following an initial meeting with the mediators.”

“It was decided that next week a team will be dispatched to continue the negotiations. It should be emphasized that there are still gaps between the sides,” the statement read.

The latest round of talks began when Israel received a new Hamas proposal, which was transmitted by the mediating countries on Wednesday, with sources expressing cautious optimism about chances for an agreement.

“For the first time, Hamas’ answer allows progress. There is a basis for negotiations,” an unnamed source said.

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

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