Qatar Negotiations: Israel Pitches Six-Week Gaza Ceasefire for 40 Captives

Israel plans to dispatch a high-ranking delegation, led by its Mossad chief, to Qatar on Monday for mediated discussions with Hamas aimed at securing a six-week ceasefire in Gaza. As part of the proposed agreement, Palestinian militants would release 40 hostages. An Israeli official, speaking anonymously, outlined the proposal, which involves Israel withdrawing from two main roads in Gaza and permitting the entry of hundreds of aid trucks into the blockaded territory. Additionally, Hamas would be allowed to reconstruct its military infrastructure in exchange for agreeing to the ceasefire terms. The official estimated that the negotiations could span at least two weeks, noting the communication challenges faced by Hamas’ foreign representatives in Gaza after over five months of conflict.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slammed the proposed deal, saying it was based on “unrealistic demands,” but his office announced that an Israeli team would go to Qatar for further talks. The government’s national security adviser, Tzachi Hanegbi, said in broadcast remarks that there is “probably room to move toward an agreement” in the new round of talks.

The United States and Egypt have pushed for an end to the fighting in Gaza that has killed nearly 30,000 people and destroyed large parts of the territory. The war also has displaced more than 1.5 million, and the U.N. warned that Gaza is on the brink of a famine.

Israel has resisted pressure to stop the campaign in Gaza, and a senior Hamas official on Saturday criticized the U.S. for presenting a plan that contradicted agreements reached during previous ceasefires. But a senior Hamas official later told The Associated Press that the group would accept a compromise that ensured the freedom of Israel’s hostages while allowing Israel to continue its military campaign in Gaza.

In a bid to bolster the negotiations, Germany’s chancellor, Olaf Scholz, called on Israel to increase its humanitarian relief to Gaza. “We cannot stand by and watch Palestinians starve,” he said in public remarks broadcast alongside Netanyahu. He urged the government to “reconsider its decision” not to grant Gazans access to international aid agencies.

The new round of negotiations is likely to be a difficult one, given that Israel has been bombing the southern city of Rafah since 7 October, with little apparent success in preventing civilian casualties or ending the conflict. The U.S. and the E.U. have expressed concern about a possible Israeli ground operation in the coastal city, which houses more than 1.5 million Palestinians displaced from elsewhere in the shattered enclave. In his comments to reporters, the chancellor echoed a warning from Netanyahu that such an operation could cause a “catastrophe.” Thousands of demonstrators gathered in Tel Aviv on Saturday night to show their anger at the prime minister and their demand for the release of the hostages. In Washington, meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has pressed Qatar to use its financial influence to pressure Hamas to negotiate.

The Global Twist

"The Global Twist is a freelance writer and journalist with over 10 years of experience in the industry. He has written for various publications. He is passionate about covering social and political issues and has a keen interest in technology and innovation. When he's not writing, The Global Twist can be found hiking in the mountains or practicing yoga.

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