No breakthrough in hostage talks, Hamas hardening its position, says Israeli official

‘No one should be fooled – it will take a long time.’

By Vered Weiss, World Israel News

Contrary to a Reuters report early on Wednesday, an Israeli official stated there was no breakthrough yet on hostage talks and that Hamas continues to harden its line and demands  a permanent ceasefire.

“The reports of progress in the talks and a breakthrough are incorrect,” the Israeli official told Hebrew media outlets.

They continued, “There are very large gaps and no progress in the talks. It is very complicated and there is a constant hardening of positions on the part of Hamas. No one should be fooled – it will take a long time.”

Reuters issued an exclusive report that Hamas and Israel “broadly agree in principle” to a month-long halt in fighting in exchange for the remainder of hostages taken from Israel and the release of Palestinian prisoners as well as additional humanitarian aid to Gaza.

Reuters added, “The framework plan is being held up by the two sides’ differences over how to bring a permanent end to the Gaza war, three sources said.”

However, the issue of a temporary pause in fighting versus a permanent ceasefire is a crucial matter on which any potential hostage deal would rely upon.

The Biden Administration, Qatar and Egypt have spent several weeks negotiating a plan that would lead to a phased release of hostages, starting with the remaining civilian women, the elderly men and injured captives, then civilian men and finally soldiers.

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In return, the Israelis would be required to release hundreds of Palestinian prisoners and agree to a pause in fighting.

The Israelis consented to a month-long pause, and at first Hamas demanded several months and finally refused to release any hostages until Israel agreed to a complete withdrawal of troops from Gaza and a permanent ceasefire.

Prime Minister Netanyahu announced that he would not agree to a permanent ceasefire and emphasized that hostages could be freed through military pressure, demanding nothing less than a “total victory” of Israel over Hamas.