Israel Agrees on “Outline” of Partial Hostage Release Deal

2024-02-24 13:26:33

Nearly three months after Hamas broke the hostage deal, Israel is considering an outline agreement to secure release of remaining captives languishing in Gaza. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet is reviewing the framework agreement resulting from hostage negotiations in Paris.

Hamas has reportedly ‘softened’ its stance as the IDF advances on its last-standing terrorist stronghold of Rafah.

The proposed agreement appears to be similar to the previous hostages-for-terrorists deal which will result in partial release of Israeli captives in return for weeks of ceasefire. The deal outlined in Paris may “include 6-week pause in combat, release of 35-40 hostage women, children and female soldiers,” The Times of Israel wrote Saturday. The ceasefire will give Hamas a much-need breather, as well as time to rearm and regroup its terrorist fighting forces.

The Times of Israel reports:

An Israeli delegation of top security officials returned from talks in Paris on Saturday as reports spread of growing hope in Jerusalem that a new hostage release deal with Hamas could be within reach.

Israel’s war cabinet was to convene Saturday evening to discuss the emerging “outline of an agreement,” described by an Israeli official cited widely in media as a “basis on which to build a plan and the principles for negotiations.”

“There’s significant progress and a solid basis for discussions,” the official said.

At the same time, an Israeli official told The Times of Israel that while there was optimism in Israeli media about the likelihood of a deal, the delegation itself was more cautious.

Talks in Paris were held between Israel, American, Egyptian and Qatari representatives who have been working for weeks to secure a deal to free hostages and pause the fighting. However, a key party not present at the Paris talks was Hamas, and it remained to be seen how the group would respond to the latest proposal.

Another senior Israeli official cautioned in a statement Saturday that negotiators were “still far from a deal” but acknowledged that Hamas had “dropped some of its demands.”

A senior US official echoed the sentiment, telling the Axios news site that there was “some progress made in the hostage talks in Paris on Friday, but more ways to go to get a deal.” The publication noted that moving on to negotiating the details still depended on Qatari and Egyptian negotiators getting Hamas to agree to the framework presented at the talks in Paris.

Netanyahu presents post-war plan For Gaza, wants Gazans unaffiliated with terrorism to administer the enclave

Amid ongoing hostage negotiations with Hamas, Prime Minister Netanyahu tabled a detailed post-war plan for Gaza. The proposed plan seeks to de-militarize Gaza and appoint Palestinians unaffiliated with terrorist groups to administer the enclave.

Prime Minister “Netanyahu outlined a blueprint for postwar Gaza that calls for it to be administered by local Palestinian officials free of links to militant groups and for Israel to conduct security operations in the strip indefinitely,” The Wall Street Journal reported Friday.

The Biden administration is reportedly “at odd with” the post-war Israeli plan that does not foresee the creation of a “Palestinian State” less than five months after Hamas-led Palestinian terrorists murdered 1200 Israelis and took hundreds of others hostage. According to a report in The Washington Post published February 14, the Biden White House was planning to announce “a firm timeline for the establishment of a Palestinian state … as early as the next several weeks.”

“The Israeli leader’s proposal is at odds with the United States and much of the world over Palestinian statehood, border areas and the future role of the Palestinian Authority,” The New York Times noted Saturday. “The Biden administration and Arab states have called for both Gaza and the occupied West Bank to become part of a future Palestinian state alongside Israel, arguing that decades of Israeli-Palestinian conflict can only be resolved with an eventual two-state solution,” the newspaper added.

The Reuters reported Friday:

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has presented his first official “day after” plan for the Gaza Strip once the war ends, saying Israel will keep security control over Palestinian areas and make reconstruction dependent on demilitarisation.

The plan, which brings together a range of well-established Israeli positions, underlines Netanyahu’s resistance to the creation of a Palestinian state which he sees as a security threat, without explicitly ruling one out at some future stage.

It was swiftly dismissed by Palestinian officials as doomed to failure.

The document, distributed to security cabinet members as a discussion paper rather than a set programme, proposes Israel would maintain security control over all land west of Jordan, including the occupied West Bank and Gaza – territories where the Palestinians hope to establish an independent state.

The plan comes amid intensifying international calls to end the fighting that has destroyed large swathes of Gaza and to revive efforts to establish a Palestinian state alongside Israel.

Not just the Biden administration and the Arab states, the terrorist group Hamas was also upset over Prime Minister Netanyahu’s post-war plan for Gaza.

The terrorist group rejected the Israeli blueprint which allows Gazans to administrate themselves without Hamas. The Times of Israel reported Friday:

A senior Hamas official lambastes Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plan for post-war Gaza during a press conference in Beirut.

“When it comes to the day after in the Gaza Strip, Netanyahu is presenting ideas which he knows fully well will never succeed,” Osama Hamdan tells reporters.

Israel gears up for Rafah offensive amid hostage negotiations

The IDF will launch the Rafah offensive if hostages were not release before the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan set to start on March 10, Israeli government officials say. Country’s war cabinet may decide on the offensive in coming days. “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says the cabinet will convene next week to approve the IDF’s plans for Rafah, including the evacuation of civilians from the area,” The Times of Israel reported Saturday.

The Jerusalem Post reported the developments in hostages negotiations:

Israel’s cabinet is set to discuss a new outline for the liberation of the hostages held in Gaza, following talks held in Paris Friday evening.

The Israeli delegation – which included – Mossad chief David Barnea, Shin Bet head Ronen Bar, IDF’s hostages’ affairs coordinator Nitzan Alon, and Head of IDF Strategic Affairs Division Oren Seter returned to Israel from the French capital Saturday morning after a long-hours discussion, apparently with positive results.

Sources involved in the negotiations told the Israeli press that advancement has been made towards a new framework, though several crucial details still need to be agreed upon, such as the number and identity of the Palestinian prisoners to be released from Israeli jails in exchange for hostages liberated.

IDF Chief: Fighting against Hamas in Gaza is key to hostages’ release

Meanwhile,  Israeli military planners believe that intensifying operations in Gaza is the best strategy to deal with Hamas. “The fighting effort is the most effective action that helps those who carry and give in all kinds of places for the release of the kidnapped,” Chief of the General Staff, Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi declared Saturday.

the Israeli TV channel i24NEWS reports:

In a recent assessment of the situation in the northern Gaza Strip, the Chief of Staff, alongside other military commanders, emphasized the crucial role of the ongoing fighting effort in negotiations for the release of abducted individuals.

During the assessment, which took place on Saturday, the Chief of Staff, accompanied by Major General Yaron Finkelman, commander of the Southern Command, and Lieutenant Colonel Itzik Cohen, commander of Division 162, discussed the progress and strategy in the conflict zone.

Addressing the ongoing negotiations for the release of abductees, the Chief of Staff emphasized the interconnectedness between military achievements and diplomatic endeavors. He underscored the pivotal role of the fighting effort in exerting pressure on Hamas, thereby potentially facilitating the release of kidnapped individuals.

“The fighting effort is the most effective action that helps those who carry and give in all kinds of places for the release of the kidnapped,” stated the Chief of Staff. “This is the lever we are taking down on Hamas, and you are taking it down very well.”

In keeping with its military objectives, the IDF continued operations across Gaza. The military eliminated Hamas terrorist fighters and destroyed weaponry hidden in homes and public buildings.

Israeli ground troops uncovered even more evidence of collusion between Hamas and the United Nations ‘aid agency’ UNRWA. “In an operation on a number of buildings that Hamas had converted into a fighting compound, the soldiers located mortar bombs and cartridges inside UNRWA bags. In addition, AK-47s, bullets, grenades, explosives, drones, RPG launchers and means of communication were located and confiscated,” the Israel news website Arutz Sheva reported.

IDF hits back at Hezbollah targets in Lebanon

Meanwhile, the IDF is also hitting terrorist targets in Lebanon in response to relentless cross-border rocket barrages by Iran-backed Hezbollah terror group.

“Throughout the day, a number of launches were identified toward the areas of Arab al-Aramshe, Hanita, and Har Dov. The IDF struck the sources of the fire in Lebanon,” the Israeli military announed in a press release on Saturday.

“Over the past few hours, IDF fighter jets struck additional Hezbollah military compounds in the areas of Rab El Thalathine, Ayta ash Shab, and Blida. Furthermore, IDF artillery struck to remove a threat in a number of locations in southern Lebanon,” the military disclosed.


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