US-Hamas hostage deal 'very real option' if Gaza ceasefire not agreed

US-Hamas hostage deal 'very real option' if Gaza ceasefire not agreed
The report comes following an Israeli raid on the Nuseirat Refugee Camp which rescued four Israeli captives and killed 274 Palestinians.
2 min read
10 June, 2024
US officials told NBC that direct negotiations between the US and Hamas would not involve Israel [Getty]

The US could attempt direct talks with Hamas to attain the release of Israeli captives who hold dual US citizenship if Israel does not accept a ceasefire proposal.

According to current and former US officials speaking to NBC the Biden Administration is currently discussing whether to hold direct talks with Hamas through Qatar to secure the release of five US nationals held in Gaza.

The US nationals held in Gaza are believed to be Edan Alexander, Sagui Dekel-Chen, Hersh Goldberg-Polin, Omer Neutra, and Keith Siegal.

The negotiations, which would also see the US try to recover the remains of three US citizens who were killed on 7 October and held in Gaza, would not involve Israel.

According to one US official, the idea of direct negotiations and a deal with Hamas remains a "very real option" if the latest ceasefire proposal fails.

However, the officials who spoke to NBC also noted that the administration does not know what it can give Hamas as part of a deal, although they noted such a deal could be seen by Hamas as straining relations between Israel and the US.

On 31 May US President Joe Biden announced that a new ceasefire proposal consisting of three multi-week phases was on the table that would see the release of Israeli captives in Gaza and Palestinian detainees held in Israeli jails.

A Qatari-Egyptian proposal that was made in May, and which Hamas agreed to, was also a three-phased multi-week plan that would have seen the implementation of a ceasefire and release of Israeli captives for Palestinian captives.

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Although Biden said the ceasefire was an Israeli proposal, Israel has yet to agree to the proposal and far-right members of the Israeli government vehemently rejected the prospect of a ceasefire in Gaza.

Rather, Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, who welcomed the resignation of war cabinet member Benny Gantz on Sunday, was quoted by the Times of Israel as wanting to "conquer Gaza and [go to] war with Hezbollah".

Ben-Gvir also said he wanted to return to being a "leading force" in the coalition government following Gantz's departure.

A former official also told NBC that a deal could have added value in pressuring Israel to agree to the current ceasefire proposal.

It comes as US officials told NBC that there is concern that an agreement become harder to attain following Israel's successful rescue of four captives in a raid on Nuseirat that killed 274 Palestinians.

Israel's war on Gaza, which is now in its ninth month, has killed 37,124 Palestinians and wounded a further 84,712.