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Netanyahu reportedly delays new hostage deal without telling cabinet members

Move demonstrates split opinions in war cabinet over military role in hostage deal

Israelis protest calling for the release of Israelis held hostage in the Gaza Strip and marking the first birthday of Kfir Bibas in captivity, outside the Red Cross offices in Tel Aviv, Jan. 18, 2024. (Photo: Miriam Alster/Flash90)

According to a report in Israel’s Channel 13 news, the war cabinet had agreed on a set of principles for new hostage negotiations, however, on Wednesday evening, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly delayed the negotiation outline by toughening Israel's positions without first consulting the cabinet. 

The agreement on the outline was reportedly reached between Netanyahu, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, National Unity party leader Benny Gantz, and Knesset Member Gadi Eisenkot (also National Unity). 

The agreement included conditions to guide advanced discussions of a hostage deal and conditions regarding the future of Hamas. 

The cabinet discussions took place earlier in the week but Netanyahu reportedly made the changes late on Wednesday evening. 

Other members of the war cabinet only discovered Netanyahu's change after the fact and, according to the Channel 13 report, they exchanged heated words over the delay and changes, with one minister accusing the prime minister of “softening the promotion of a hostage deal.” 

However, an unnamed political official told Maariv News that the Israeli outline is still being worked on and “has not been delayed.” 

On Thursday morning, Army Radio reported that either Saudi Arabia or Egypt was ready to present the Israeli position in new negotiations, but that it was halted due to Netanyahu’s last-minute changes. 

While the coalition government promised two goals for the military action in Gaza – the removal of Hamas and the freeing of the hostages– several leaders have recently expressed concerns about the IDF's ability to free the hostages.

Former Israeli Defense Minister Gantz recently stated that the hostages will likely not be freed by the IDF. He and Eisenkot have pushed for a new hostage release deal. 

Gallant and Netanyahu agree that IDF pressure on Hamas is an important tool in reaching a hostage deal. 

Netanyahu recently stated that Israel will continue military operations until “complete victory” is achieved. 

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

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