Tuesday, February 27, 2024

“Extremely Serious” Debates.. Are Israel and Hamas Close to a New Ceasefire?


The possibility of a new cease-fire between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip is growing, including a cease-fire and the release of hostages and prisoners from both sides, with both sides insisting on meeting preconditions before declaring. Final Agreement.

Egypt brokered a week-long ceasefire last November with Qatar, when Hamas freed more than 100 hostages in exchange for Israel’s release of 240 Palestinian prisoners.

The White House confirmed that the ceasefire discussions were “very serious”. National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said, “These are very serious discussions and negotiations and we’re confident they’ll be fruitful… It’s something we’ve been working on since the end of the previous moratorium.”

On Tuesday, Israeli President Isaac Herzog announced his country’s readiness for “a new humanitarian ceasefire and additional humanitarian assistance to free the hostages.”

Israeli government spokesman Ofir Gentleman told Arab media that Hamas must release the Israeli hostages, “and then we can talk about a temporary ceasefire.”

In an interview with the Al-Hurrah website, he said, “Within the framework of the previous temporary fighting, Hamas released more than 100 kidnappers, leading to a temporary ceasefire.”

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Qatari and Egyptian-brokered talks are underway to reach a second ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, under which Hamas would return some hostages in exchange for Israel’s release of Palestinian prisoners, Reuters reported, citing a source familiar with the matter.

The source added that the number of people scheduled for release was still under discussion and that Israel was insisting on including the most vulnerable women and men as hostages.

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Meanwhile, Ismail Haniyeh, head of the Hamas political organization, arrived in Egypt on Wednesday to discuss a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, including the exchange of hostages and prisoners.

Haniyeh arrived in Cairo at the head of a Hamas delegation, where he specifically met with Abbas Kamel, the head of the Egyptian General Intelligence.

“Several proposals will be discussed, including ideas that include a temporary ceasefire for a week in exchange for Hamas releasing 40 Israeli prisoners, including women, children and non-military men,” a source close to Hamas told AFP.

He added that “the agreement is subject to renewal after reaching an understanding on new categories and standards for exchange,” noting that these were “ideas discussed in Israeli-Qatar discussions with the knowledge of the US administration.”

Israeli political analyst Eli Nissan confirms that “there are persistent efforts by Egypt, Qatar and the United States for a cease-fire agreement.”

Nissan told the Al-Hurrah website that “Israel is ready to hold a 14-day ceasefire to allow Hamas to collect all the abducted people from the Gaza Strip from other factions.”

“Israel wants Hamas to release women, children, the elderly and the sick. In return, the movement wants a final ceasefire and Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, and these conditions are completely unacceptable to us,” points out Nissan.

Nissan points out that Israel agreed to make a concession as a result of a request by the hostages’ families to release Palestinian prisoners and those convicted of killing Israelis.

“Israel has not acknowledged the matter in the past, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently accepted it after meeting with the families of the hostages.”

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There is an even greater gap between the two sides’ declared positions on the cessation of hostilities. Hamas rejects any other temporary ceasefire and says it will only discuss a permanent ceasefire. Israel rejected this and said it would only agree to a limited humanitarian ceasefire until Hamas was defeated.

The talks come as Israel faces increased pressure from its international allies to calm its campaign against Gaza, which has led to the destruction of large swathes of the coastal enclave. Israel launched its military operation on October 7 in response to an attack by Hamas militants in the south.

Washington last week publicly called for Israel to scale back the scope of its sweeping war to more precise and specific strikes targeting Hamas leaders, and to end what US President Joe Biden described as “indiscriminate bombing”.

Sameh Rashed, a researcher on regional affairs at the Al-Ahram Study Center, believes, however, that “the chances of reaching a ceasefire are very high and almost certain.”

Rashid points out that Israel previously announced that the military campaign in Gaza was aimed at eliminating Hamas and rescuing hostages, “neither of which has been achieved so far.”

In an interview with the Al-Hurrah website, Rasheed added, “Israeli military operations did not result in the rescue of hostages, did not lead to the disbanding of the Hamas movement or the arrest of its leaders or fighters, as Israel desired. “

“On the contrary, the only result achieved from the military operations was material and human losses on both sides,” says Rashid, who emphasized that the recovery of several hostages was achieved only through partial fighting.

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“Ultimately Israel will be forced to accept a cease-fire, and most likely the conditions it imposes will fall within the principle of raising the ceiling for negotiations,” Rashid believes.

According to Israel, Israel pledged to eliminate Hamas from Gaza after its fighters killed 1,200 people and took 240 hostages in October 7 attacks.

Gaza health officials say nearly 20,000 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli attacks since then and thousands more are missing and believed to be buried in the rubble.

The Israeli government also faces internal political pressure to reach another deal to release the hostages.

Israel believes there are 129 hostages in Gaza, 21 of whom are feared to have died in custody.

Rolf Colon
Rolf Colon
"Creator. Award-winning problem solver. Music evangelist. Incurable introvert."

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