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Israeli official: Paris negotiators reached ‘outline’ for hostages-for-truce deal

High-ranking Israeli Cabinet members were expected to meet Saturday with a delegation that returned from talks in Paris with negotiators from the United States, Egypt and Qatar in search of a deal on pausing the fighting in Gaza, an Israeli official said. Following discussions in Paris, the Israeli delegation reports cautious optimism about reaching a temporary ceasefire agreement with Hamas in the Gaza Strip, aiming for the release of both Israeli and foreign hostages. According to an Israeli official cited by several media outlets, representatives from Israel, the U.S., Egypt, and Qatar have laid the groundwork for a ceasefire. Channel 12 quotes the official stating, “There were good talks, there’s significant progress. We have a basis on which to build a plan and the negotiations.”

Quick Read

  • Israeli Cabinet Meeting: High-ranking Israeli Cabinet members are set to discuss the outcomes of the Paris negotiations involving the United States, Egypt, and Qatar, aimed at reaching a ceasefire agreement in Gaza.
  • Hamas’ Position: The Israeli official indicated that Hamas has made some concessions in their demands, without providing specific details.
  • Proposed Deal: The draft deal discussed includes the exchange of up to 40 women and elderly hostages in Gaza for up to 300 Palestinian prisoners held by Israel. It also proposes a six-week pause in fighting to allow humanitarian aid into Gaza and further negotiations for a permanent ceasefire.
  • Negotiation Deadline: The talks are under pressure to conclude before the start of Ramadan on March 10.
  • Hamas’ Response: Hamas official Osama Hamdan stated that Israel has not met their primary demands, including ceasing hostilities and withdrawing from Gaza.
  • Casualty Update: The Gaza Health Ministry reported 92 Palestinian deaths in the last 24 hours, bringing the total death toll to 29,606, with nearly 70,000 wounded.
  • Recent Israeli Airstrike: An airstrike in Rafah killed at least eight people, intensifying calls for a ceasefire from local residents affected by the ongoing conflict.

The Associated Press has the story:

Israeli official: Paris negotiators reached ‘outline’ for hostages-for-truce deal

DEIR AL-BALAH, Gaza Strip (AP) —

High-ranking Israeli Cabinet members were expected to meet Saturday with a delegation that returned from talks in Paris with negotiators from the United States, Egypt and Qatar in search of a deal on pausing the fighting in Gaza, an Israeli official said.

People attend a demonstration demanding the release of the hostages taken by Hamas militants into the Gaza Strip during the Oct. 7th attack, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Saturday, Jan. 27, 2024. Netanyahu is under mounting pressure from families of the hostages and the wider public to reach a deal with Hamas to bring the captives home. Many Israelis fear time is running out. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter, asserted that the Hamas militant group ruling Gaza had relented on some demands, but gave no details.

A senior official from Egypt, which along with Qatar is a mediator between Israel and Hamas, said the draft deal offered to Israel’s delegation included the release of up to 40 women and older hostages held in Gaza in return for up to 300 Palestinian prisoners held by Israel, mostly women, minors and older people.

Palestinian kids receive free food in Rafah, Gaza Strip, Friday, Feb. 23, 2024. An estimated 1.5 million Palestinians displaced by the war took refuge in Rafahor, which is likely Israel’s next focus in its war against Hamas. (AP Photo/Fatima Shbair)

The Egyptian official said the proposed six-week pause in fighting would include allowing hundreds of aid trucks to enter Gaza every day, including the northern half of the besieged territory. He said that both sides agreed to continue negotiations during the pause for further releases and a permanent cease-fire. The official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the ongoing negotiations, said that mediators were waiting for Israel’s official response.

Negotiators face an unofficial deadline of the start of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan around March 10.

Hamas official
Senior Hamas official Osama Hamdan speaks during a rally organized by Lebanon’s militant Hezbollah group to express solidarity with the Palestinian people, in the southern suburb of Beirut, Lebanon, Monday, May 17, 2021. Hamdan says he expects a cease-fire between the group’s Gaza branch and Israel within 24 hours, on Thursday, May 20. He tells The Associated Press that Egypt and Qatar are mediating and that progress is being made. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

Hamas political official Osama Hamdan noted that the group wasn’t at the talks, but asserted to reporters in Beirut on Friday that Israel had refused its main demands, including stopping the “aggression” and withdrawing from the Gaza Strip.

A Palestinian boy stands by the bodies of relatives killed in the Israeli bombardments of the Gaza Strip in front of the morgue of the Al Aqsa Hospital in Deir al Balah on Saturday, Feb. 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

The Health Ministry in Gaza said Saturday that the bodies of 92 Palestinians killed in Israeli bombardments were brought to hospitals over the past 24 hours, raising the overall toll in nearly five months of war to 29,606. The total number of wounded rose to nearly 70,000.

Palestinians rescue survivors after an Israelikm strike on Shaheen family house in Rafah, Gaza Strip, Saturday, Feb. 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Hatem Ali)

The ministry’s death toll doesn’t distinguish between civilians and combatants, but it has said that two-thirds of those killed were children and women. Israel says its troops have killed more than 10,000 Hamas fighters, but hasn’t provided details.

Palestinians wounded in the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip are brought to Al Aqsa hospital in Deir al Balah, Friday, Feb. 23, 2024. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

An Israeli airstrike hit a house in Gaza’s southernmost city of Rafah, killing at least eight people. including four women and a child, health authorities said. An Associated Press journalist saw the bodies at Abu Youssef al-Najjar hospital.

“Enough, enough. Either the Israelis or us should stop. There should be a truce,” said neighbor Abdul-Qader Shubeir, who described feeling lost at not being immediately able to put out the fire burning the bodies.

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