‘The ball is in Hamas’s court’ after Israel approved hostage deal – US official

‘If Hamas agrees to the terms and agrees to release the captives, a six-week ceasefire will begin immediately.’

By Vered Weiss, World Israel News

A senior US official reported that Israel has “basically agreed” to a hostage deal and a pause in fighting while the countries involved in negotiations are awaiting an answer from Hamas about whether they will accept the plan.

Speaking on a conference call with reporters, the official said, “The Israelis have agreed to the terms of the deal.”

He added, “If Hamas agrees to the terms and agrees to release the captives, a six-week ceasefire will begin immediately.”

“This deal is on the table. Talks are ongoing with Hamas in Qatar, and we hope to reach an agreement by Ramadan. The ball is in Hamas’s court. We continue to push this as hard as we can,” he concluded.

The hostage deal, negotiated in Paris by Qatar, the US, Egypt, and Israel, includes a 6-week ceasefire along with the release of elderly, female, and wounded hostages in exchange for Palestinian security prisoners.

Hamas rejected a similar hostage framework deal negotiated last month, demanding a permanent ceasefire and the release of thousands of high-security Palestinian prisoners.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Hamas’s demands “delusional” and said Israel insisted on nothing short of “total victory.”

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According to CNN, the official said that a major bone of contention with Hamas this time is the “defined category of vulnerable hostages.”

Additional talks are planned in Cairo with negotiators from Egypt, the US, Hamas and Israel as Qatar is expected to sit out this round of talks.

Hamas and Israel will communicate with each other indirectly, each in their specific rooms.

At the meeting in Paris last week, Israel asked for a complete list of hostages and an indication of which ones are living and which are deceased.

Hamas has not responded to this request.

Talks continued in the past week in Doha with negotiators from Qatar, Egypt, the US and Israel.