Middle East

Israel and Hamas appear on brink of framework agreement for ceasefire and hostage deal, Israeli source says

By Jeremy Diamond, CNN

Jerusalem CNN  — 

Israel and Hamas appear to be on the brink of a framework agreement for a ceasefire and hostage release deal, an Israeli source familiar with the negotiations said.

Israeli officials believe Hamas’ latest response will enable the two parties to enter detailed negotiations to reach an agreement, the source said.

A deal, however, is still not finalized nor is it assured. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu must first green-light entering into that next phase of negotiations; and it will likely take several weeks of difficult negotiations to negotiate the details of a potential agreement, including the identities of Palestinian prisoners to be released in exchange for Israeli hostages held by Hamas and the sequencing of releases.

Israeli negotiators are set to meet with Israel’s political leadership, including Netanyahu, over the coming days to decide whether to enter this phase of detailed negotiations.

Hamas has confirmed that it passed a response on an Israeli proposal to mediators Qatar and Egypt, repeating its demand for a complete ceasefire.

“We have put forward some demands that achieve securing access to a complete ceasefire and the withdrawal of Israeli forces,” Basem Naim, a member of Hamas’ political bureau, told CNN on Wednesday.

Hamas also said in a separate statement on Wednesday that it had “exchanged some ideas” with the mediators aiming to stop “the aggression against our Palestinian people.”

Hamas added in a later statement that it has dealt with the Israeli proposal “positively.”

Hamas political leader Ismail Haniyeh was in touch with the mediators in Qatar and Egypt for hours, discussing with them ideas “in order to reach an agreement” to end the war in Gaza, the statement said.

“Communication has also taken place between the head of the movement and officials in Turkey regarding the recent developments,” the statement added.

The Mossad, Israel’s intelligence service which has led negotiations, confirmed on Wednesday that Egyptian and Qatari mediators had submitted Hamas’ latest response to Israel.

“Israel is evaluating the remarks and will convey its reply to the mediators,” the Mossad statement said without providing any additional details.

The development comes as the Hostage and Missing Families Forum warned in a statement that millions of Israelis would take to the streets if the government fails to secure a deal to release the hostages.

“The people of Israel show time and time again in every poll that they are in favor of a complete deal for the return of all hostages. We will not allow the government’s ministers to torpedo the deal again,” the statement said.

“The government is at the highest moral test of its tenure: the continuation of abandonment or a determined action for rescue and restoration,” the statement added. “It’s either the complete return of the hostages or all Israeli citizens will be taking to the roads and intersections.”

Additional reporting by Abeer Salman, Ibrahim Dahman, Tamar Michaelis.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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