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Israel sends delegation to negotiate hostage release deal with Hamas

Israel sends delegation to negotiate hostage release deal with Hamas

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told US President Joe Biden on Thursday he has decided to send a delegation to resume stalled negotiations on a hostage release deal with Hamas, their administrations said.


In a phone call between the two leaders, Netanyahu repeated his position that Israel would only end its nearly nine-month war in Gaza when all its objectives had been achieved, his office said in a statement.
Israel’s Channel 12 said the head of Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency would lead the Israeli delegation for the talks, though this was not immediately confirmed.
Netanyahu is scheduled later on Thursday to have consultations with his negotiating team, then discuss the hostage release talks with his security cabinet.
The White House said the two leaders discussed the recent response received from Hamas.
“The president welcomed the prime minister’s decision to authorize his negotiators to engage with US, Qatari, and Egyptian mediators in an effort to close out the deal,” it said in a statement.
It was not clear where the Israeli delegation would go to resume the talks. Prior efforts to end the Gaza conflict were mediated by Egypt and Qatar, with talks held in both locations.
Israel received Hamas’ response on Wednesday to a proposal made public at the end of May by Biden that would include the release of about 120 hostages held in Gaza and a ceasefire in the Palestinian enclave.
A Palestinian official close to the mediation effort told Reuters that Hamas, the militant group that controls Gaza, has shown flexibility over some clauses that would allow a framework agreement to be reached should Israel approve.
Two Hamas officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Hamas has said any deal must end the war and bring a full Israeli withdrawal from Gaza. Israel maintains it will accept only temporary pauses in the fighting until Hamas is eradicated.
The plan entails the gradual release of Israeli hostages still being held in Gaza and the pullback of Israeli forces over the first two phases, and the freeing of Palestinian prisoners. The third phase involves the reconstruction of the war-shattered territory and return of the remains of deceased hostages. AN

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