Framework for Gaza truce, prisoner exchange to be sent to Hamas: Qatar

AFP , Ahram Online , Monday 29 Jan 2024

A framework for a halt in fighting in Gaza and prisoner exchange is to be relayed to Hamas, Qatar's prime minister said Monday following meetings with US, Israeli and Egyptian officials.

Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani
Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani during a previous visit to Washington in November. Photo courtesy of the Qatari Foreign Ministry.


Qatar, along with Egypt and the United States, has led mediation efforts since the Israeli war on Gaza started on 7 October. 

Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, speaking in Washington at an event hosted by the Atlantic Council think tank, said "good progress" had been made during the talks in Paris.

The Qatari premier confirmed the meetings with CIA chief Bill Burns and top Israeli and Egyptian security officials had resulted in a framework for a phased truce that would see Israeli women and children captives released first, with aid also entering the besieged Gaza Strip.

The parties were "hoping to relay this proposal to Hamas and to get them to a place where they engage positively and constructively in the process," he said.

Sheikh Mohammed added that Hamas had made "a clear demand" for a "permanent ceasefire ahead of the negotiations."

The current proposal, the prime minister said, "might lead to a ceasefire permanently in the future."

Previously, Qatar mediated a one-week break in fighting that began in November and led to the release of scores of Israeli and foreign captives, as well as aid entering the besieged Palestinian territory.

Hamas took some 250 captives on 7 October, of whom Israel says around 132 remain in Gaza, including the bodies of at least 28 dead captives who were killed in the Israeli bombing of the strip

Meanwhile, Israel holds more than 6,000 Palestinians in its jails who face torture among other harsh conditions.

Moreover, Israel has arrested thousands of Palestinians in raids in the occupied West Bank since 7 October.

Sky News Arabia reported on Monday evening that the prisoner exchange deal could see the release of 100-200 Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails for every released Israeli captive.

Israel's relentless military offensive has killed at least 26,637 people and injured nearly 27,000 others in Gaza, 70 percent of them women and children, according to the Palestinian health ministry.

Qatar, which hosts the largest US military base in the Middle East, also hosts Hamas's political office.

The Qatari premier warned an attack blamed on Iran-backed militants that killed three US troops in Jordan could escalate regional tensions.

"We've been warning from day one that this war has a potential of expanding and spill over on the region," he said.

"I hope that nothing would undermine the efforts that we are doing or jeopardize the process, yet it will have an impact."

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