Hamas gives initial nod to hostage deal, say Qatari officials

A Palestinian official close to the negotiations said that Hamas is unlikely to reject the deal outright but may refuse to sign without the guarantee that Israel intends to end the war. 

By Vered Weiss, World Israel News

Qatari officials announced Thursday night that Hamas has given initial approval to the hostage deal, although there is no concrete deal underway yet, and negotiators are awaiting for further approval from the terror group.

“Hamas has received the proposal positively, but we are waiting for their response,” a Qatari official told Reuters.

Although Hamas has said it would reject any deal that doesn’t include an end to the war and the withdrawal of Israeli troops, Hamas political leader Ismail Haniyeh said he is traveling to Cairo to “study” the deal.

A Palestinian official close to the negotiations said that Hamas is unlikely to reject the deal outright but may refuse to sign without the guarantee that Israel intends to end the war.

They said, “Instead, I expect them to send a positive response and reaffirm their demands: for the agreement to be signed, it must ensure Israel will commit to ending the war in Gaza and pull out from the enclave completely.”

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However, Israeli Prime Minister has emphasized repeatedly that Israel insists on “total victory” and won’t yield to an agreement that will compromise Israel’s security.

According to the Palestinian source, the recent draft of the agreement would call for a pause in fighting for 40 days, the release of civilian hostages, and at later stages the release of soldiers and bodies of dead hostages.

A draft of the proposal earlier in the week said that hundreds of Palestinian prisoners would be freed for every hostage, which would amount to 5,000 terrorists released from Israeli prisons.

Netanyahu rejected that draft of the proposal and National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir threatened to resign from the administration, a move that would dissolve the current government if Netanyahu would have agreed.

More recent reports say the number of prisoners released per civilian hostage was reduced to 3 to 1, although Hamas will ask for 150 prisoners for every female soldier in the second phase of the deal.