Hamas dropping its demand for permanent ceasefire now has a ‘twist’

Hamas is no longer satisfied with “verbal commitments and guarantees” from mediators that Israel will not resume the war.

By Vered Weiss, World Israel News

Hamas gave its initial approval to the latest version of the hostage release deal, relaxing its demands for a permanent ceasefire as a pre-condition only after it was given verbal guarantees that Israel wouldn’t resume the war.

Previously, talks were forestalled because Hamas refused to engage in negotiations unless Israel agreed to a complete and permanent ceasefire before stage one would begin.

A Hamas representative to The Associated Press said that the terror group was willing to relax this demand only after “verbal commitments and guarantees” from the mediators that Israel wouldn’t resume the war and that negotiations would lead to a permanent ceasefire.

However, Hamas indicated that it won’t be satisfied with these verbal guarantees. “Now we want these guarantees on paper,” the representative said.

According to a Walla report on Friday, Mossad chief David Barnea denied that Israel would give Hamas a written guarantee that the second phase of the agreement could be extended indefinitely.

Axios reported that US officials felt confident they could negotiate a settlement that would work for both Israel and Hamas.

The cause of the impasse in past agreements was that Hamas is concerned Israel will resume the war once the hostages are released. Israel is worried Hamas will extend negotiations past the first phase without releasing all of the remaining hostages.

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The hostage deal begins with the first phase lasting 42 days, beginning with a “full and complete” pause in fighting during which female, elderly male and sick or wounded hostages would be released, and Israeli forces would withdraw from populated areas in Gaza, allowing Palestinian evacuees to return.

During the first phase, the terms of the second phase would be negotiated, and the second phase would see the release of the remaining living hostages as well as the release of Palestinian prisoners.

During the third phase, the bodies of deceased hostages will be returned, and a plan to rebuild Gaza will be implemented.