Israel-Hamas War News: UNRWA Says Funding Will Run Out Within Weeks
Officials from Egypt and Qatar were set to present Hamas with a new Israeli truce proposal after high-level talks
Officials from Egypt and Qatar were set to present Hamas with a new Israeli truce proposal after high-level talks in Paris focused on negotiating a deal to suspend the fighting in Gaza and release hostages held by Hamas and other armed groups.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel said that discussions would continue this week, signaling at least the potential for progress toward an agreement as the fighting nears its fourth month. Talks on Sunday were “constructive,” Mr. Netanyahu’s office said, but cautioned that “significant gaps” remained.
A person briefed on the talks said Israel had presented a proposal for Egypt and Qatar — two countries that have served as intermediaries since the start of the fighting — to take to Hamas, whose deadly Oct. 7 cross-border attack prompted Israel’s retaliatory war against the group in Gaza.
There was enough progress during the discussion that Egypt and Qatar thought it worth taking the new proposal to Hamas, the person said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss delicate diplomacy.
Participants in the meeting on Sunday included the C.I.A. director, William J. Burns; Israel’s spy chief, David Barnea; the head of Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security agency, Ronen Bar; the prime minister of Qatar, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim al-Thani, and Egypt’s intelligence minister of Egypt, Gen. Abbas Kamel.
The negotiators planned to leave Paris, but discussions were expected to continue in the next few days in the hope that the new proposal would break the log jam and get negotiations going in earnest, the person said without disclosing any details about the proposal.
Israeli leaders have for months vowed to continue their war against Hamas until the organization’s military capabilities and ability to rule Gaza are dismantled and no longer pose any threat. But Hamas officials have publicly conditioned any further hostage release on an Israeli commitment for a complete cessation of the war.
In recent days, American-led negotiators had developed a written draft agreement merging proposals offered by Israel and Hamas into a basic framework that would see Israel suspend its war in Gaza for about two months in exchange for the phased release of more than 100 hostages still held by Hamas.
Efforts to free more hostages have stalled since an initial deal in November resulted in a weeklong pause in the fighting and the release of more than 100 hostages by Hamas and about 240 Palestinian prisoners and detainees held by Israel.
About 136 people taken hostage during the Oct. 7 attack remain unaccounted for, although about two dozen are presumed to be dead, according to Israeli officials. About 1,200 others were killed in the raids, Israeli officials have said.
There was no immediate information about where further talks would take place or when, or who might participate in them.
But the push for a new deal comes as the families of the hostages and their supporters have increased pressure on the Israeli government to prioritize their release over the continuation of the fighting, and as shortages of food and water worsen the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, where health officials have said more than 26,000 people have died since the start of Israel’s military response.
An intense debate is underway in Israel over whether its advancing military offensive is bringing a hostage deal closer by pressuring the Hamas leadership in Gaza or is distancing the prospects of a deal and endangering the captives.
Yoav Gallant, Israel’s defense minister and a key member of the country’s five-person war cabinet, told reserve troops he met on Sunday, “Thanks to what you have done and continue to do, these days we are conducting a negotiation process for the release of hostages,” adding that Israel would intensify its military pressure.