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US-led Paris hostage talks reportedly ‘constructive’ but ‘significant gaps’ remain

Follow up meetings expected later this week

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)

An U.S.-led effort to achieve a new hostage deal between Israel and Hamas took place in Paris, France on Sunday. 

CIA director William Burns was joined by Mossad Chief David Barnea and Shin Bet head Ronen Bar, as well as the prime minister of Qatar and the Egyptian intelligence minister, who are serving as Hamas mediators. 

While the meeting concluded without an agreement, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office released a statement Sunday night calling the talks “constructive.” 

“The meeting was defined as constructive,” the Prime Minister’s Office said. “There are still significant gaps which the sides will continue to discuss at additional mutual meetings to be held this week.” 

Israeli officials have been publicly tight-lipped about the possibility of a new hostage deal, only releasing statements that the government is involved in efforts to free the hostages. 

The two sides are reportedly unwilling to budge on certain issues. Hamas has demanded a permanent ceasefire as part of a hostage release, along with the IDF's withdrawal from all parts of the Gaza Strip. 

Israel, meanwhile, is offering up to a two-month ceasefire, and partial withdrawal from only certain areas of the Strip, in return for the release of all hostages. 

Israel, for its part, is unwilling to agree to a permanent ceasefire, with officials repeating the promise to dismantle Hamas and ensure that “Gaza no longer poses a threat to Israel.” 

The United States is pressing Israel to allow more humanitarian aid into Gaza as part of a hostage deal. 

According to KAN news, the hostage release would likely be a phased release – similar to the previous one –with women, elderly, and sick hostages released first, in exchange for a 30-day ceasefire. During that time, Israel and Hamas would finalize details of the second phase, which would see the release of captured soldiers and bodies of dead hostages in return for an additional 30-day ceasefire. 

The release of terror prisoners by Israel are believed to be a part of both phases. 

An unnamed Israeli official told the Israeli Broadcasting Authority that the purpose of the talks “is to try and initiate a move; to bring up ideas, proposals, to break the deadlock.” 

While earlier talks had focused on a proposal by the Mossad to allow Yahya Sinwar, his brother Mohammed Sinwar, and senior military wing leader Mohammed Deif to flee the Gaza Strip as part of a hostage deal, this was reportedly not part of the talks on Sunday. 

Follow-up meetings are expected to take place in Paris later this week. The Israeli war cabinet is also meeting on Monday morning, where they are expected to discuss details from the talks. 

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

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