Qatar PM says only 'minor' challenges to Israel-Palestinian captives deal

AFP , Sunday 19 Nov 2023

A deal to free captives held by Hamas now hinges on "minor" practical issues, Qatar's prime minister said Sunday, without giving details or a timeline.

File Photo- Qatar s Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani. AP


"The challenges that remain in the negotiations are very minor compared to the bigger challenges, they are more logistical, they are more practical," Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani told a joint press conference with EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell.

Qatar has helped broker talks aiming to free some of the 240 captives in return for a temporary ceasefire, a mediation effort that has so far led to the release of four captives.

"The deal is going through ups and downs from time to time throughout the last few weeks," the premier said.

"I think that I'm now more confident that we are close enough to reach a deal that can bring the people safely back to their homes."

The United States said Saturday it was still working to secure a deal between Israel and Hamas after the Washington Post reported there was a tentative agreement to free women and children captured in Gaza in exchange for a pause in fighting.

Citing unnamed sources, the newspaper said all parties would halt combat operations for at least five days while some captives were to be released in batches.

The White House quickly responded on Saturday evening with a message on X, formerly Twitter, to deny any major breakthrough.

Thani said on Sunday it was "counterproductive to see leaks about the negotiations coming out in the media before sealing the deal".

On Thursday Biden said he was "mildly hopeful" of reaching a deal to free the captives, believed to include about 10 US citizens.

Israel has so far refused to heed calls for a ceasefire before all the captives are released.

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