Israel signals approval for hostage deal outline, cautiously optimistic

The proposed deal involves the release of 25-40 women, children, elderly, and ill hostages during a 6-week ceasefire.

By Vered Weiss, World Israel News

As an Israeli delegation returned from Paris with an updated framework for a hostage release deal, the war cabinet convened to discuss the details and create an “outline of agreement.”

An Israeli official reported that the war cabinet is discussing a “basis on which to build a plan and the principles for negotiations.”

They added, “There’s significant progress and a solid basis for discussions.”

The updated hostage deal, which has yet to be approved by Hamas, involves the initial release of 25-40 women, children, elderly, and ill hostages during a 6-week ceasefire and in exchange for hundreds of Palestinian prisoners.

Talks in Paris included negotiations between the US, Qatar, Egypt, and Israel, but didn’t include Hamas.

However, there was some indication in the Saudi media that Hamas had “softened” its position and may have rescinded its demand for a permanent ceasefire, a condition that was a non-starter with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

A US official told Axios that there is “some progress made in the hostage talks in Paris on Friday, but more ways to go to get a deal.”

Prime Minister Netanyahu signaled his approval of the deal but insisted the IDF would continue its operations in Rafah to eliminate the last Hamas battalions.

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He said, “We are working to reach another framework for the release of our hostages, as well as the completion of the elimination of the Hamas battalions in Rafah.”

The agreement calls for only a temporary ceasefire and has provisions for a “redeployment” of the IDF in Gaza.

As part of the outline, women and children would be allowed to return to northern Gaza, but Israel has objected to sections of the agreement that would provide for Gaza to be rebuilt before it has been entirely demilitarized.

In addition, there are disagreements over the number and type of Palestinian prisoners who will be released, with some reports indicating that there will be 10 prisoners freed for every Israeli hostage.

A foreign source said Israel may be willing to release Palestinian prisoners who were freed in the 2011 Gilad Shalit deal and who have subsequently re-offended and have been imprisoned again.