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Deal between Israel and Hamas appears to be taking shape, but what would it look like?

Deal between Israel and Hamas appears to be taking shape, but what would it look like?

Israel and Hamas are moving slowly toward a new deal that would release some of the 130 hostages still held captive in the Gaza Strip in exchange for a week-long ceasefire.

US President Joe Biden said an agreement could take effect as early as Monday, ahead of what is seen as an unofficial deadline: the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which begins on March 10.

A deal could bring some relief to the desperate people of the Gaza Strip, who have endured enormous toll, as well as to the distraught families of Israeli hostages who were taken by Hamas in the October 7 assault that sparked the war.

Here’s a look at the emerging agreement:

A draft of the agreement

According to a high-ranking official of Egypt, there would be a six-week ceasefire in exchange for the freedom of up to 40 hostages, mostly civilian women and at least two children, an elderly man, and sick hostages. Israel would release at least 300 Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli prisons, the official said.

Israel would also allow some displaced Palestinians to return to specific areas of the northern Gaza Strip, which was the first target of Israel’s ground offensive and suffered widespread damage, according to the Egyptian official, which is brokering the deal along with United States and Qatar.

The Egyptian official noted that aid deliveries would be increased during the ceasefire, and between 300 and 500 trucks would enter the territory a day, many more than the daily average of trucks entering since the start of the war.

The deliveries would be facilitated by Israel, whose forces would refrain from carrying out attacks on the caravans or the police escorting them, according to the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss details of the negotiations. with journalists.

The points of conflict

Despite Biden’s optimism, both parties continue to maintain their position on any final agreement even as negotiations continue in Qatar. Both Israeli and Hamas officials downplayed any sense of progress.

Israel and Hamas have been far apart on their terms for reaching an agreement in the past, prolonging negotiations that appeared to have momentum.

Israel wants female soldiers to be included in the first phase of hostage release, according to an Israeli official who spoke on condition of anonymity because negotiations are ongoing. Hamas views all soldiers as more important bargaining chips and is likely to reject that demand. The Egyptian official said that, at the moment, female soldiers were not considered until after the first liberation.

The Egyptian official said the sides are also discussing how many Palestinians could return to the northern Gaza Strip and whether they would limit their return to women and men over 50 years of age.

Within the negotiations, the sides are trying to determine which parts of the Gaza Strip Israel would withdraw its troops from, the Egyptian official said, adding that Israel wants Hamas to refrain from using those areas as platforms for attacks. He also wants Hamas to stop firing rockets into southern Israel. Hamas has rejected both demands, according to the official.

The emerging agreement leaves open the possibility for Israel to operate in the southern town of Rafah once the deal expires. More than half of Gaza’s population has fled to the city on the border with Egypt. Israel wants to destroy what it says are the few Hamas battalions still there.

What is left to negotiate?

During the temporary ceasefire, both sides would negotiate an extension of the deal, which the Egyptian official said would include the release of all female soldiers in exchange for a higher number of imprisoned Palestinians, including those serving long sentences for deadly attacks. .

After the female soldiers, Israel would seek to release the male soldiers, for whom Hamas would likely ask for a higher price. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has promised that he will not pay any price to reach a deal. But the families of the hostages, whose suffering has deeply shaken Israelis, will likely increase pressure if others are freed.

The United States hopes the new agreement will be a platform for it to implement its postwar vision that will eventually lead to the creation of a Palestinian state. He wants Gaza to be governed by a renewed Palestinian Authority, administering part of the Israeli-occupied West Bank. On Monday, the Palestinian Authority took a first step that could lead to U.S.-backed reforms by dissolving the self-government.

Israel wants to remain in charge of overall security control in the Gaza Strip and has rejected world powers imposing a state on it.

Source: Gestion

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