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Hamas Is Discussing Hostage Deal Proposal, Official Says: Live Updates

The political chief of Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh, announced on Tuesday that the militant group had received a proposal to pause the fighting in Gaza, after representatives from four nations agreed to present the group with a framework that would begin with a six-week cease-fire to allow for the release of more hostages.

Mr. Haniyeh said in a statement that Hamas was studying the proposal that had emerged from talks over the weekend in Paris, which included officials from the United States, Israel, Qatar and Egypt. Mr. Haniyeh added that Hamas had received an invitation to Cairo to discuss “the framework agreement from the Paris meeting.”

While Mr. Haniyeh’s statement indicated that Hamas was considering the proposal, and thanked Qatar and Egypt for their efforts, he emphasized the group’s longstanding demand for a permanent cease-fire and the full withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza.

“The priority is ending the unjust aggression on Gaza and the complete withdrawal of the occupation’s forces,” Mr. Haniyeh said.

After talks in Paris on Sunday, representatives from the four nations agreed to have Qatar present a framework to Hamas that proposes a six-week pause in the war, during which Hamas would exchange some hostages held in Gaza for Palestinian prisoners held by Israel, officials said. In the proposed framework, Hamas would release older hostages, women and children, if any are still being held and are alive, during the initial six-week pause, according to the officials, who said that would be the first of three potential phases of swaps.

The officials, who agreed to speak on the condition of anonymity to describe sensitive diplomacy, cautioned that the talks are at an early stage, and many details would need to be worked out if Hamas agrees to start building on the framework. The group’s political leaders, including Mr. Haniyeh, would need to convey the proposal to its military leaders — a process that could take days or longer because the military leaders are believed to be in hiding in tunnels deep beneath Gaza.

Mr. Haniyeh suggested in his statement that Hamas was willing to work with the framework, if it helps achieve its demands. In addition to a permanent cease-fire and the withdrawal of Israeli forces, he said Hamas was seeking the reconstruction of Gaza, the lifting of a yearslong Israeli blockade on the territory and the release of Palestinian prisoners held in Israel.

Families of Israeli hostages being held in Gaza demanded an immediate deal while blocking a road near Israel’s Ministry of Defense, in Tel Aviv, on Monday.Credit…Ahmad Gharabli/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The four-nation meeting in Paris appeared to offer the most hopeful sign in months for a diplomatic agreement to ease the war. On Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel described the talks as “constructive” but cautioned that “significant gaps” remained.

The meeting in Paris — which included the C.I.A. director, William J. Burns; Israeli security officials; and the prime minister of Qatar, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim al-Thani — came as Israel’s government has faced increased pressure over its handling of the war, which began on Oct. 7. That day, Hamas led sweeping attacks into Israel that Israeli officials said killed about 1,200 people and took about 240 more hostage, making it the worst terrorist attack in the country’s history.

More than 100 hostages were released during a weeklong pause in the fighting in November, along with 240 Palestinian prisoners and detainees held by Israel. But efforts toward another deal have so far been elusive.

Family members of those still being held in Gaza have called for an urgent deal and the International Court of Justice in The Hague last week ordered the delivery of more humanitarian aid to Palestinians in Gaza, where health officials say more than 26,000 people have died since Israel’s military campaign began.

Sheikh Mohammed, the Qatari prime minister, said on Monday that “good progress” had been made in the negotiations. Speaking at an event hosted by the Washington-based Atlantic Council, he said that talks were the only viable path toward de-escalation, adding that the rising death toll from Israel’s campaign in Gaza was “not getting any results to get the hostages back.”

Earlier on Monday, Sheikh Mohammed had met with Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, who said at an afternoon news conference that the proposal on the table is “a compelling one” and that “there is some real hope going forward.” But Mr. Blinken added: “Hamas will have to make its own decisions.”

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Nathan
Nathan

Nathan is an experienced journalist. He's covered a broad spectrum of topics, including politics, culture, and human interest stories, always aiming to engage and inform his audience. Nathan has a degree in Journalism and upholds the highest standards of integrity and accuracy in his work.

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