Israel waiting to hear Hamas stance before deciding on rejoining hostage talks — official

Lazar Berman is The Times of Israel's diplomatic reporter

Israel is waiting for more information from the mediators on what Hamas’s latest positions are before it makes any decision on sending a team of negotiators to resumed talks on a hostage deal, an Israeli official tells The Times of Israel.

On Saturday, a senior Israeli official told The Times of Israel that talks were set to resume this week, after Mossad chief David Barnea discussed “building a foundation” for the resumption of talks with CIA Director William Burns and Qatar’s Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani. At the end of the meeting, the official said the three agreed to restart talks on “new proposals led by the mediators Egypt and Qatar, with active involvement of the US.”

During the Paris talks, Barnea presented Burns and al-Thani with Israel’s latest proposal and was briefed by the CIA chief on possible solutions for unspecified matters of contention in past rounds of talks, according to the official.

On Sunday, a Hamas official said it had not seen any new proposals and insisted that it would not budge from its demand that any deal include an end to the war.

In a Knesset speech today, Netanyahu denied claims that he and his coalition allies are avoiding reaching an agreement to halt fighting and bring the captives home, after the military’s point person to the talks was quoted complaining that the government refused to show flexibility.

“I totally reject the idea that I am not giving the negotiating team the mandate it’s requested,” Netanyahu asserted, claiming he has okayed requests for increased flexibility five times since late December.

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