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Israel Agrees to Basic Contours of Hostage Deal with Hamas, NSC Says

Friends and relatives of the Israeli hostages held in the Gaza attend a rally calling for their release in Tel Aviv, Israel | AP
Friends and relatives of the Israeli hostages held in the Gaza attend a rally calling for their release in Tel Aviv, Israel | AP

During the weekend, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told CNN's Dana Bash that the United States, alongside Egypt, Qatar, and Israel, have reached an agreement outlining the fundamental aspects of a hostage deal to facilitate a temporary ceasefire in Gaza.

The negotiations are ongoing, according to Sullivan, who mentioned that discussions will be mediated by Qatar and Egypt involving Hamas.

The comments from Sullivan come as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin (Bibi) Netanyahu told CBS News Face the Nation host Margaret Brennan that every "high-risk" detainee freed from the hostage agreement should be transferred to Qatar upon their release from Israeli jails.

Prime Minister Netanyahu stated on Sunday that it wasn't yet clear if negotiations would lead to a hostage agreement. He chose not to delve into specifics but emphasized that Hamas should aim for a more reasonable position. Netanyahu also reaffirmed his backing for the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) mission in Rafah in southern Gaza where four Hamas battalions are still present. He confirmed that displaced civilians from Gaza won't be forced into Egypt due to the operation.

Another high-ranking Israeli representative warned that negotiations were not close to reaching an agreement. However, they verified that Hamas had disregarded some of its requests.

Barak Ravid, the political reporter for Axios, revealed on X (Twitter) the terms currently under discussion in Paris. Among these terms is the proposed release of numerous Palestinian detainees in exchange for freeing 35-40 Israeli captives. These captives include civilian females, women in military service, males over 50, and those with severe medical conditions.

The leaked terms revealed that the ratio of Palestinian prisoners released differs based on the category of Israeli captives. Notably, more Palestinian prisoners will be set free for each female soldier compared to other captives. Some of these prisoners have served lengthy sentences for their involvement in the killing of Israelis.

Several other terms include Israel agreeing to a cessation of hostilities for one day for every captive released, potentially culminating in a six-week ceasefire during the initial phase of the agreement.

Despite the ongoing discussions over the hostage agreement, the Israeli government has released a new plan that would deal with the aftermath of the Gaza military operation. According to reports, Netanyahu's plan advocates granting Israel's military freedom of action across a demilitarized Gaza after the war to counter security threats while also proposing the establishment of a buffer zone within Gaza. Furthermore, the plan envisages governance in Gaza by local officials who are not associated with terrorist-supporting entities and will not receive funding from them.

Despite pressure from various countries, including the US, the Israeli Prime Minister announced that the cabinet will authorize the IDF's strategy for an offensive in Gaza's southern city of Rafah, Hamas's final stronghold.

Netanyahu stated that these plans would involve the relocation of civilians from the area.

Related Story: Families of American Hostages Press for Swifter Action

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