Breakthrough near on hostage deal, 2-month ceasefire – report

US, Israeli, Qatari, and Egyptian officials head to Paris summit amid reports of breakthrough in hostage deal talks.

By David Rosenberg, World Israel News

The U.S. team helping to broker negotiations for a hostage release and ceasefire in the Gaza war has reported major progress ahead of a key summit.

According to separate reports by The New York Times and The Associated Press over the weekend, American officials working to secure a deal have drafted a proposal, based on prior plans put forward by Israel and Hamas.

The deal would, if signed by the two sides, secure the release of the more than 100 Israeli hostages still held captive in Gaza.

In exchange, Israel would agree to a two-month ceasefire, during which time the captives would be released in two stages. During the first month, Israeli women, children, elderly captives, and hostages with serious injuries would be returned, while male civilians and security personnel captured on October 7th would be released during the second month of the ceasefire.

In addition to the two-month truce, Israel would be required to permit significantly more aid into the Gaza Strip. Jerusalem has expressed concern that Hamas is using the aid to maintain its control over the population of Gaza, and may be using fuel transfers to operate weapons factories.

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The Biden administration has dispatched CIA Director Bill Burns to Paris for a summit Sunday with David Barnea, chief of Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency; Egyptian intelligence chief Abbas Kamel; and Qatari premier and foreign minister Abdulrahman al-Thani.

American negotiators who spoke with the Times and AP expressed optimism that an agreement can be hammered out during the Paris summit, and that the two-month lull in the fighting could form the basis for a future arrangement to end the war.

The deal under discussion would not end the war, however, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterating Saturday his government’s commitment to carrying on the fight until Hamas has been destroyed.

“We will never forgive what the Hamas monsters did to our daughters and our sons; therefore, there is no alternative to total victory. We must win – and we will win.”

There are currently 136 Israelis still unaccounted for and believed to be held in the Gaza Strip. Israel estimates that 28 of those 136 died in captivity, with 108 hostages still alive in the coastal enclave.