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Hamas gives ‘initial positive confirmation’ on truce plan: Qatar

'There was “still a very tough road in front of us,' says Qatari foreign ministry
Displaced Palestinians flee from Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on January 30, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas. AFP
Displaced Palestinians flee from Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on January 30, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas. AFP

Hamas has given “initial positive confirmation” to a proposal for the cessation of fighting in Gaza and the release of hostages, Qatar’s foreign ministry spokesman said on Thursday.

US, Egyptian and Qatari mediators met with Israeli intelligence officials in Paris on Sunday where they proposed a six-week pause in the Gaza war and a hostage-prisoner exchange for Hamas to review.

“That proposal has been approved by the Israeli side and now we have an initial positive confirmation from the Hamas’ side,” Majed al-Ansari told an audience at a Washington-based graduate school.

A Hamas source said, however, that there was still no consensus on the proposal. “There is no agreement on the framework of the agreement yet… and the Qatari statement is rushed and not true,” the source told AFP in Gaza.

The Qatari foreign ministry spokesman said there was “still a very tough road in front of us”.

“We are optimistic because both sides now agreed to the premise that would lead to a next pause,” said Ansari.

“We’re hopeful that in the next couple of weeks, we’ll be able to share good news about that,” he added.

The Qatar-based leader of Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh, was expected in Cairo on Thursday or Friday for talks on a proposed truce.

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

The war was triggered by Hamas’s October 7 attack on Israel, which resulted in the deaths of around 1,163 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on the latest official Israeli figures.

Militants also seized about 250 hostages. Israel says 132 of them remain in Gaza including at least 27 people believed to have been killed.

Following the deadliest attack in Israel’s history, its military launched a withering air, land and sea offensive that has killed at least 26,900 people in Gaza, most of them women and children, according to the health ministry in the Hamas-run territory.

A Hamas source told AFP the three-stage plan would start with an initial six-week halt to the fighting that would see more aid deliveries into the Gaza Strip.

Only “women, children and sick men over 60” held by Gaza militants would be freed during that stage in exchange for Palestinian prisoners in Israel, the source said, requesting anonymity due to the sensitivity of the talks.

There would also be “negotiations around the withdrawal of Israeli forces”, with possible additional phases involving more hostage-prisoner exchanges, said the source, adding the territory’s rebuilding was also among issues addressed by the deal.

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