Gaza ceasefire negotiators agree on new framework deal: Israeli media

Ahram Online , Saturday 24 Feb 2024

Negotiators working on a Gaza ceasefire deal in Paris agreed to a new framework for a possible prisoner swap between Israel and Hamas, Israeli media reported on Saturday.

Combined images
Combined images (from L to R) Head of Egypt s General Intelligence Service Abbas Kamel, Qatar s Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, CIA Director William Burns, Mossad Director David Barnea. Al-Ahram

 

The meeting, which kicked off on Friday, is the latest in a series of international and regional efforts meant to achieve a ceasefire deal in the Gaza Strip before the advent of Ramadan.

The meeting involves Head of Egypt’s General Intelligence Service Abbas Kamel, Qatar’s Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, CIA Director William Burns, Mossad Director David Barnea, and Director of the Israeli Security Agency (Shabak) Ronen Bar.

“The US, Israel, Qatar & Egypt agreed during a meeting in Paris on Friday on an updated framework for a possible deal to release hostages held by Hamas in Gaza in return for a temporary ceasefire & release of Palestinian prisoners,” an Axios reporter added on X. 

He cited two sources with knowledge of the issue.

According to Israeli media reports, progress in the Paris negotiations may lead to talks on a detailed agreement, including the number and identity of Palestinians imprisoned in Israeli jails.

Israel’s War Cabinet would meet on Saturday or Sunday to receive the update from the negotiations team and decide on whether to move forward with the new outline and hold further talks on the deal.

A parallel report from the Israeli broadcaster Kan indicated that the follow-up talks will be held, adding that the talks in Paris focused on four demands from Hamas that Israel opposed, such as the complete withdrawal of the military from the northern Gaza Strip.

The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has released a postwar plan for Gaza that pushes for indefinite military control over the Palestinian territory. 

The Palestinian Authority condemned Netanyahu’s plan as “a formal declaration of the reoccupation of the Gaza Strip” and an obstruction of diplomatic efforts toward a Palestinian state.

On Friday US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the US was opposed to any reoccupation of Gaza by Israel as well as any reduction in the size of the territory.

"There should be no Israeli reoccupation of Gaza. The size of Gaza territory should not be reduced," he said at a G20 ministers meeting in Argentina.

”The fresh round of negotiations comes hours after the US Middle East advisor’s talks in Egypt and Israel regarding the Gaza war as well as the conclusion of Hamas talks on the ceasefire in Cairo.

Hamas is now waiting to see what mediators bring back from the weekend talks with Israel, reported Reuters citing an unnamed source from the Palestinian movement.

In early February, a similar round of talks was in Paris concluded with a framework deal on an extended ceasefire proposal that involved the release of detainees held by Israel and Hamas.

Hamas responded with a counterproposal involving a three-phase deal lasting 45 days each, which Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected as "delusional."

Egypt, alongside Qatar, helped mediate a week-long ceasefire in November, in which Hamas freed over 100 captives in exchange for 240 detained Palestinian women and children.

Israel's ground invasion and relentless bombardment have killed around 30,000 people in Gaza, mostly women and children, and wounded some 70,000, according to the Palestinian health ministry.

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