Disagreement between Hamas leaders is the main impediment to hostage deal – WSJ

Although Hamas political leader Ismail Haniyeh reportedly agreed to the six-week ceasefire and hostage release deal, Yahya Sinwar is not budging from previous demands. 

By Vered Weiss, World Israel News

Disagreements between October 7th mastermind Yahya Sinwar and the head of Hamas’s political wing Ismail Haniyeh are holding up the hostage deal, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Sinwar, who according to Sky News Arabia, annoyed his fellow Hamas leaders by planning the October 7th massacre without consulting them, is taking a hawkish position and is not budging from earlier demands.

It appears that Qatar and the Biden Administration’s shared optimism over a hostage release deal was based on Haniyeh’s agreement to the 6-week truce and hostage release.

However Sinwar seems to have overruled Haniyeh as reflected by Thursday’s Hamas statement that it still demands that Israel commit to a permanent ceasefire and withdraws all of its troops from Gaza before hostages are released.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netayahu has called these conditions “delusional” and has declared that Israel is committed to achieving “total victory” over Hamas in Gaza.

Although approval of a hostage deal seemed imminent last week, Israel refused to send a delegation to Cairo because Hamas would not release a list detailing which hostages are still alive and information about their conditions.

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Hamas delegates left Cairo “to consult with the movement’s leadership” and restated their goals of securing a ceasefire, more humanitarian aid and the return of Palestinian civilians to the north of Gaza.

Although the US is pushing for a hostage deal and a pause in fighting before Ramadan, Israeli and some Arab officials have indicated that Sinwar is deliberately sabotaging a hostage deal because he may be planning major terror attacks on Ramadan to shore up Palestinian support for Hamas.

Qatar has warned Hamas officials that delegates would be expelled from their base in Doha if Hamas leaders refuse to agree to a deal, according to a Hamas official and Egyptian officials.

The hostage release deal, originally negotiated in Paris by officials from Qatar, Egypt, the US and Israel calls for a 6 week ceasefire and a release of Israeli hostages, beginning with women, children, the elderly and wounded in exchange for the release of Palestinian prisoners.