Israel agrees to send a delegation of negotiators to Qatar to continue peace talks

By Euronews with AP |

Israel’s war cabinet approved on Saturday night the continuation of peace talks and sending negotiators to Qatar to discuss securing a ceasefire in the war against Hamas and the return of hostages being held in Gaza, officials and local media said.

The delegation previously met in Paris, with mediators from the US, Qatar and Egypt.

A senior Egyptian official involved in mediating between Israel and Hamas alongside Qatar disclosed that the draft deal entails the release of approximately 40 female and older hostages held in Gaza in exchange for up to 300 Palestinian prisoners detained by Israel, primarily women, minors, and elderly individuals.

Speaking anonymously to discuss the ongoing negotiations, the Egyptian official outlined a proposed six-week halt in fighting. During this period, it is envisaged that hundreds of aid trucks would be permitted to enter Gaza daily, including to the northern region of the besieged territory.

Both parties have agreed to sustain negotiations throughout this pause, with the intention of facilitating additional hostage releases and ultimately achieving a permanent ceasefire.

However, despite these diplomatic efforts, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced plans to approve “in the coming days” operational plans for action in Rafah, including details on the evacuation of civilians.

The other areas of the Strip will be “revisited” by IDF soldiers who will be conducting an extended search for hostages and Hamas leaders, the Chief of General Staff Herzi Halevi said on Saturday.

However, negotiators are confronted with an informal deadline looming with a start date around March 10th, the beginning of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

In the midst of diplomatic talks, tension was within Israel as police employed water cannons to disperse demonstrators in Tel Aviv. The protest was directed against the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with protesters calling for the release of the hostages held in the Gaza Strip by Hamas militants.

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