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Friday, May 24, 2024

Israel-Hamas ceasefire deal close – NYT

A US-brokered agreement could halt the fighting in Gaza for two months, officials have told the paper

Israel and Hamas are on course to reach a prolonged ceasefire deal within the next two weeks, the New York Times has reported, citing unnamed US officials close to the negotiations.

The agreement could see Hamas release the remaining Israeli hostages in its custody in exchange for the IDF stopping its attacks on Gaza for about two months, the paper claimed on Saturday.

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According to the sources, a written draft combining the proposals from both sides has been put together over the past ten days, and will be discussed at talks in Paris on Sunday.

Around 1,200 people were killed and some 240 taken hostage during the incursion into Israel by Hamas on October 7. The IDF operation, launched in response to the raid, has so far seen 26,422 Palestinians killed and 65,087 others wounded, according to Gaza’s health ministry. Earlier this week, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ordered Israel to take all necessary measures to prevent genocide in Gaza.

Hamas released around a half of the hostages during a week-long truce in November. According to the Israeli authorities, the group still holds 136 people, while some two dozen captives are believed to have been killed in the fighting.

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The new ceasefire deal would be “more expansive in scope” than the previous one, the officials told the paper. In its first phase, which would see the hostilities come to a halt for 30 days, women, the elderly, and wounded hostages are to be freed by Hamas. During this time, the sides will agree to a second phase, which would prolong the truce for another month in exchange for the release of Israeli soldiers and male civilians.

The agreement would also see more humanitarian aid reach Gaza, the Times reported. The number of Palestinians to be released from Israeli prisons has not yet been negotiated, but the sources described it as “a solvable issue.”

The deal would not deliver the permanent ceasefire that Hamas has been demanding, but the officials expressed their belief that after a two-month break the Israeli attacks on Gaza would be less intensive. The truce would also provide a window for diplomacy that could facilitate a broader resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, they said.

Egyptian officials told the Wall Street Journal on Saturday of a much similar plan offered to Israel and Hamas by international mediators. However, they claimed that the ceasefire would be a longer one, lasting up to four months.