‘Not optimistic’ – Israel wary of hostage negotiations in Qatar

Israeli negotiators have low expectations for what may be the final round of discussions between Jerusalem and Hamas.

By World Israel News Staff

A senior Israeli official said that Jerusalem is “not optimistic at all” regarding the likelihood of procuring the release of the hostages, who have been held in Gaza for more than five months, during a fresh round of negotiations with the Hamas terror group.

Speaking to the Times of Israel, the official said that Israel does not expect to come to an agreement with Hamas, but that it was participating in the discussions nonetheless due to mounting pressure from the Biden administration and European Union for a pause in the ongoing conflict.

“We cannot afford to not exhaust this opportunity,” the official told the Times of Israel, noting that the U.S. may slow down the shipment of arms in order to reduce the intensity of the fighting.

While the Biden administration has not made that specific threat, the possibility of such a move is “looming in the background,” the official added.

“It’s communicated through back channels, more hinted,” they said. But it’s something that is happening.”

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According to a Wall Street Journal report, Qatari negotiators – who have served as interlocuters between Israel and Hamas – have told Netanyahu’s coalition that this will be the last opportunity for hostage deal and ceasefire discussions brokered by the Gulf kingdom.

The talks are expected to last for about two weeks, after the Israeli delegation’s departure for Doha was stalled due to ongoing debates regarding the team’s flexibility and authority to agree to a potential deal.

“The negotiating team didn’t get everything it asked from the cabinet concerning the breadth of mandate, but it received enough content and a framework in order to start up detailed and significant negotiations,” an official told Hebrew-language Channel 13 News.

U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan admitted at a press conference on Monday that achieving a ceasefire and hostage deal has “has been more elusive than we would have hoped.”