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Israel looks to restart hostage negotiations amid domestic and international pressure

War Cabinet meets to discuss hostage talks while Hamas continues to stall

Demonstrators hold images of five female soldiers held hostage by Hamas terrorists in Gaza, as they protest calling for the release of all hostages held in the Gaza Strip in Jerusalem, May 25, 2024. (Photo: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Israel is set to restart the deadlocked hostage deal negotiations with the Hamas terror group this week, after preliminary understandings were reached with the U.S. and Qatar, according to multiple media reports.

The Israeli War Cabinet was convened on Sunday evening to discuss efforts to restart the talks based on proposals presented by Mossad Director David Barnea in his recent meeting with CIA chief William Burns, and Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani in Paris, France.

The three talked about “building an infrastructure designed to allow renewed negotiations for the release of the hostages,” a senior Israeli official told reporters on Saturday.

“At the end of the meeting, it was decided that within the next week negotiations will be resumed on the basis of new proposals, led by the Egyptian and Qatari mediators and with the active involvement of the U.S.,” the official added.

Israel did not present a final and official proposal for Hamas to review, Axios reported, but rather presented central points of the latest Israeli position as a basis for further talks.

Despite this, Hamas has signaled it is not interested in resuming the talks at this stage. A Hamas official told Axios that the terrorists wouldn’t resume negotiations as long as the IDF continues the war in Gaza.

Shortly before the planned War Cabinet meeting, the Prime Minister's Office released a statement, stressing that he "time and again gave the negotiating team an extensive mandate to release our abductees."

On the other hand, "[Hamas leader] Sinwar continues to demand the end of the war, the withdrawal of the IDF from the Gaza Strip and leaving Hamas intact, so that it can carry out the atrocities of October 7th over and over again. Prime Minister Netanyahu strongly opposes this," the statement read.

Qatari mediators are set to meet Hamas officials in Doha this week in an effort to convince the group to return to the negotiating table.

The push to resume talks coincides with increasing pressure on the Israeli government, both domestically and internationally.

Last Saturday, several Israeli cities saw large-scale protests against the government, which were re-energized by the release several days earlier of a video showing the capture of five female IDF soldiers during the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas.

The protests focused primarily on the hostage situation and the government’s failure to reach a hostage release deal so far.

Opposition leader Yair Lapid also demanded the negotiations be resumed: “There is one decision the government needs to make - close the kidnapping deal now.”

“I was with the hostage families at the Hostage Square and the Begin Gate this evening. Our boys and girls are dying there one after the other, we must not miss another opportunity to bring them home,” Lapid added.

The recent ruling by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Friday, which ordered Israel to stop military operations that risk causing the “physical destruction in whole or in part” of Gazan civilians, brought about several calls to halt the Rafah operation, including by UN Special Rapporteur Francesca Albanese.

In addition, International Criminal Court (ICC) Chief Prosecutor Karim Khan announced last Monday that he will seek arrest warrants against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

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

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