Cabinet decision on hostage deal published: Truce to be limited to 10 days from first release

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leads a meeting of the war cabinet in Tel Aviv on November 16, 2023. (Haim Zach/GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leads a meeting of the war cabinet in Tel Aviv on November 16, 2023. (Haim Zach/GPO)

The government publishes the cabinet decision on the agreement to secure the release of roughly 50 hostages among the approximately 240 who were abducted into Gaza during Hamas’s October 7 terror onslaught.

The decision lays out the framework for the deal approved by the government and includes three annexes: a recommendation from National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi; a classified document that was presented to the cabinet but not published, and a list of 300 Palestinian security prisoners eligible for release in the deal.

According to the decision, all 300 Palestinian prisoners will only be released on condition that 100 living hostages — Israeli citizens or Israeli residents — are freed from Gaza and returned to Israel.

The release will take place in two stages, with multiple phases in each stage.

In the first stage, Israel will release 150 Palestinian prisoners once 50 hostages are returned to Israel. This will take place in four phases, with at least 10 hostages being released in each phase.

“The first part will last four days during which there will be a pause in the fighting,” the decision says.

In the second stage, Israel will release “up to” a further 150 Palestinian security prisoners if “up to” 50 additional hostages are returned to Israel. It says the same ratio of Palestinian prisoners to Israeli hostages from the first part will continue, with each additional phase containing the release of at least 10 hostages.

“For each additional release of 10 hostages there will be an additional pause in fighting of 24 hours,” it says.

Again, in the second stage, prisoners will only be released once the hostages are back in Israel.

The statement says that “immediately after the end of the pause in fighting needed to secure the release of the hostages, fighting will resume in the Gaza Strip in order to destroy the military and organizational capabilities of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza and to create the conditions for the return of all the hostages.”

The decision authorizes the war cabinet of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, and Minister Benny Gantz to decide on the identity of prisoners to be released in each phase, taken from the list provided.

They are also authorized to determine the timing of each phase.

In addition, they can decide on the end of the phases, and the entire exchange and pause in fighting is limited to a maximum of ten days from the end of the first phase, the decision says.

Any Palestinian prisoners on the list who have not been released by the end of the exchanges will not be freed, the decision says.

Following the publication of the names of the Palestinian prisoners, the Israeli public was granted 24 hours to appeal to the High Court against the deal or the release of specific prisoners.

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