Israeli team going to Doha with broad mandate for truce deal, expecting drawn-out talks

Lazar Berman is The Times of Israel's diplomatic reporter

Israel’s negotiating team, headed by Mossad chief David Barnea, will be landing in Doha today.

The cabinet last night approved Israel’s “red lines,” an Israeli official tells The Times of Israel, “in order to allow the delegation to hold the negotiations.”

The official would not expand on what those red lines are.

Barnea’s team has a “broad mandate” to hammer out a hostage deal in indirect negotiations with Hamas, Israeli officials tell Hebrew media, with one source saying both sides will need to show flexibility.

Talks will kick off later today with a meeting between Barnea, Qatar Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani and Egyptian envoys, a source tells AFP.

“There is going to be a long and complex process here,” an Israeli official tells Channel 12, explaining that though they will be engaged in indirect talks with Hamas’s leadership in Doha, they really need to be speaking to the terror group’s Gaza leader Yahya Sinwar.

“Even if there is Hamas abroad, they have zero mandate to make decisions,” says the official. “Each comma and each period will take between 24 and 36 hours. It’s going to be a complicated process.”

Talks have been on hold since last week, when Israel rejected a Hamas reply to its latest offer for a six-week truce that would see 40 hostages released, with later stages possible to extend the break in fighting and allow more hostages to be freed. The terror group is reportedly seeking a deal for the release of hundreds of high-level Palestinian prisoners and an Israeli commitment to end fighting permanently and pull troops out of Gaza, with residents of north Gaza allowed to return home.

The official tells Channel 12 that Hamas’s last proposal “is not good, both sides will have to be flexible.”

“We are coming with a clear mandate, it’s not amorphous,” the official explains. “We are coming with a plan on what is possible and what is not, where Israel is willing to be flexible and where it isn’t.”

Sources who were in the cabinet debate last night say it was a “good discussion” that drilled down into details, and gave the negotiating team a “mandate that allows real negotiations.”

There are certain issues that the team is empowered to make decisions on without cabinet approval, in order to speed up the process, the station reports.

Most Popular