Israel sends delegation to negotiate hostage release deal with Hamas

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told U.S. 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.

A source in the Israeli negotiating team, speaking on condition of anonymity, said there was a real chance of achieving agreement after Hamas made a revised proposal on the terms of a deal.

“The proposal put forward by Hamas includes a very significant breakthrough,” the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The Israeli response to the Hamas proposal, submitted via mediators, was in marked contrast to past instances during the nearly nine-month war in Gaza, where Israel has said the conditions attached by Hamas were not acceptable.

An Israeli official said the head of Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency would lead the Israeli delegation for the talks.

Netanyahu was 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 Biden and Netanyahu, on a phone call, discussed the response received from Hamas on possible terms of a deal.

“The president welcomed the prime minister’s decision to authorize his negotiators to engage with U.S., Qatari, and Egyptian mediators in an effort to close out the deal,” it said in a statement.

In the phone call, Netanyahu repeated his position that Israel would only end its war in Gaza when all its objectives had been achieved, his office said in a statement.

The source in the Israeli negotiating team said: “There’s a deal with a real chance of implementation.”

The source cautioned, though, there was a risk a deal could be scuppered by “political considerations”.

Some far-right partners in Netanyahu’s ruling coalition have indicated they may quit the government if the war ends before Hamas is destroyed. Their departure from the coalition would likely end Netanyahu’s premiership.

(Source: Reuters)