Israel and Hamas truce talks reach ‘critical phase’

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Truce talks between Israel and Hamas have reached a “critical” juncture, according to media reports, amid renewed negotiations that included U.S. officials in Cairo.

Hamas may be softening on some of their demands, Israeli outlet Ynetnews reported, and Benny Gantz, a hardline member of Israel’s war cabinet, said there were “promising early signs of progress” on the deal.


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Hamas may be easing off due to outside pressure

Source:  The Jerusalem Post

Hamas is under increasing pressure from allied organizations at home and abroad to end the war, one analyst told Israeli media. While the militant group might be unwilling to ease off on some of its truce requests, the leadership of the Iran-backed Hezbollah has been pushing Hamas to renegotiate, Arab affairs analyst Jacky Hugi said. “Hezbollah, for their part, think that they have exhausted this war, but they cannot stop [Hamas’] initiative,” he explained. In recent weeks Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah and other top officials “have asked Hamas to consolidate” and ease off on some of its demands such as the release of hundreds of prisoners held by Israel, Hugi added.

Negotiations in ‘critical phase’

Source:  The National

A Palestinian source told The National that the negotiations have reached a “critical phase,” with four members of Israel’s Mossad spy agency arriving in Cairo to continue the talks on Wednesday. But Israel might be trying to force Hamas’ hand, rather than agree to truce terms, the source said: “The Israeli side is trying to evade its obligation to a truce by threatening to invade Rafah and pressuring the Palestinians through raids and starvation.” Earlier this week, Hamas abandoned its demand for a permanent ceasefire, instead saying that it would accept a temporary ceasefire in order for the two sides to carry out a prisoner exchange. Mediators are hopeful that this change of heart will mean a deal can be reached: “I believe we stand a very good chance of reaching a deal this time round,” a source close to the negotiations told The National.

Race against time as negotiators try to secure deal before Ramadan

Source:  CNN

Israeli officials have said they plan to carry out a ground campaign in the crowded city of Rafah by Ramadan if hostages are not released. Rafah is currently sheltering about 1.5 million displaced Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. Any military operations there would upend negotiations, sources close to the discussions told CNN: “If there’s an operation against Rafah, we can forget about a deal happening,” they said. Negotiators are racing to ensure that a truce is agreed before the Muslim holy month begins — but mediators aren’t hopeful that the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will agree to one. He has repeatedly decried Hamas’ demands as “delusional,” campaigning instead for a total victory over the militant group.