US negotiators said to draft deal for phased release of hostages, two-month pause

Negotiators have drafted a tentative agreement bringing together Israeli and Hamas demands that would see the rest of the hostages released and fighting paused for up to two months, The New York Times reports.

According to the report:

“In the first phase, fighting would stop for about 30 days while women, elderly and wounded hostages were released by Hamas. During that period, the two sides would work out details of a second phase that would suspend military operations for roughly another 30 days in exchange for Israeli soldiers and male civilians being held. The ratio of Palestinians to be released from Israeli prisons is still to be negotiated but that is viewed as a solvable issue. The deal would also allow for more humanitarian aid into Gaza.”

Hamas has demanded a full ceasefire, but the Times reports that “officials close to the talks believe that if Israel halts the war for two months, it would likely not resume it in the same way that it has waged it until now” opening a pathway for a more permanent ceasefire.

The report, citing US officials, says that the Washington-led draft will be presented at a summit in Paris Sunday bringing together Israel, Qatar, Egypt and the US to push moribund hostage negotiations forward.

Negotiators are “cautiously optimistic” about the sides reaching a deal, the report says, claiming one could be reached within two weeks.


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