According to a report in The Washington Post, Israel and Hamas are close to reaching an agreement, negotiated by the United States, for the release of dozens of women and children in exchange for a five-day ceasefire.
If true, it would represent the first ceasefire in the conflict, which so far has only seen “tactical pauses” for the evacuation of civilians to the southern Gaza Strip.
The deal would require both sides to freeze all combat activity for five days, at which point Hamas would begin releasing groups of hostages every 24 hours.
According to the Post, the deal was negotiated by the U.S. and Qatar with representatives from Israel and Hamas.
Meanwhile ,The Washington Examiner contradicted the story in the Post, sharing a message from U.S. National Security Council Spokeswoman Adrienne Wilson to X (formerly Twitter), stating: “We have not reached a deal yet, but we continue to work hard to get to a deal.”
We have not reached a deal yet, but we continue to work hard to get to a deal. https://t.co/rbSqcqfaKo— Adrienne Watson (@NSC_Spox) November 19, 2023
Wilson’s post on X was a reply to The Washington Post’s sharing of their story on X.
On Saturday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu directly addressed the issue of the hostages in a press briefing in its military headquarters in Tel Aviv.
“Concerning the hostages, there are many unsubstantiated rumors, many incorrect reports. I would like to make it clear: As of now, there has been no deal. But I want to promise: When there is something to say – we will report to you about it,” the Israeli prime minister stated.
Netanyahu has been under increasing pressure to achieve some progress on the release of the hostages.
A march originating from Tel Aviv, led by the families of the hostages and their supporters, reached Jerusalem Saturday night. The group plans to demonstrate in front of the Knesset on Sunday asking the government to do “everything possible” to bring the captives back home.
At the same time, Netanyahu is being pressured by many of his right-wing supporters who do not think that Israel should negotiate with Hamas for the captives but should simply demand the release of all the hostages as a precondition for any negotiations.
On Friday, Israeli National Security Council Chairman Tzachi Hanegbi reiterated the government’s official position on the Hamas captives.
“The government made an unequivocal unanimous decision: There will be no ceasefire without a massive release of hostages. That's what we stand for and we won't compromise on,” Hanegbi said.
“Only then will we agree to a ceasefire, and it will be very limited and short because afterward, we will continue advancing toward our goals for the war,” the chairman added.
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.