Changes from Hamas: new twist in hostage negotiations with Israel

Changes from Hamas: new twist in hostage negotiations with Israel

Israel says the terrorist organization has made sweeping changes that it considers tantamount to rejecting its proposal; A spokesman for the mediating country said Hamas had proposed new deadlines for a ceasefire and IDF withdrawal.

Hamas’s response to Israel’s proposal: amended

On Tuesday, Hamas presented an official response to the Israeli proposal for the release of hostages and a ceasefire presented by Israel 12 days earlier. In its response, the terrorist group said it had made “amendments” to the proposal, while Israel said the response was equivalent to rejecting its proposal.

Hamas’ response was shared with Qatar and Egypt before being passed on to a third mediator, the United States. All three countries made statements saying they were considering the proposal, but did not provide further details.

A joint statement from Egypt and Qatar said they intend to continue their mediation efforts until a deal is concluded, adding that they would coordinate with all stakeholders on next steps.

Hamas’s response was not particularly surprising given that Arab officials told The Times of Israel last week that the terrorist group would prefer to avoid outright rejection of the Israeli proposal (in the context of growing global support for the agreement) and instead plans to seek its renegotiation.

Israeli response to Hamas statement: review and expectations

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office did not provide an official response, but an anonymous Israeli government official issued a statement saying Hamas’s response “changed all the basic and most significant parameters,” amounting to rejecting the proposal.

However, more critical feedback is likely to come from the mediators, especially the United States, once they have completed their review of the proposal and decided on the scope of Hamas’ proposed changes.

If the proposed changes are deemed reasonable, mediators are likely to invite the parties to cooperate in a process that is likely to take at least another week. This accounts for the time it takes for Hamas officials abroad to relay messages to governing bodies in tunnels deep under the Gaza Strip.

Hamas’ response was first announced in a joint statement issued with a small Gaza terrorist group called Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Both groups have expressed their readiness to negotiate constructively on an agreement that will lead to a complete cessation of hostilities.

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