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What's happening with the Gaza war ceasefire negotiations?

What's happening with the Gaza war ceasefire negotiations?
4 min read
06 February, 2024
Palestinians in Gaza have suffered for months but a ceasefire to end Israel's war is yet to be achieved. What is the state of the negotiations?
Israel's brutal war on Gaza has devastated the Palestinian enclave [Ahmad Hasaballah/Getty]

Israel's brutal war on Gaza has long prompted calls for a ceasefire, but no end to the hostilities has yet been reached.

The Israeli campaign, currently on its 123rd day, has killed 27,585 people and created a humanitarian disaster in the strip.

Palestinians in Gaza have suffered for months with no respite except a weeklong pause in fighting that finished on 1 December.


US Secretary of State Antony Blinken headed to the Middle East for another crisis tour on Monday in a bid to secure a new truce.

He is hoping to shore up support for a proposal thrashed out in a Paris meeting of top US, Israeli, Egyptian, and Qatari officials last month.

The proposed truce would pause fighting for an initial six weeks as Hamas and Israel exchange hostages and more aid enters Gaza, according to a Hamas source.

The group has said no agreement has yet been reached, while some Israeli officials have expressed opposition to any perceived concessions.

'Positive direction'

Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar on Monday said Palestinian sources indicated that both the political bureau and Gaza leadership agreed in a written response given to Qatar and Egypt, the two key regional brokers, there will be a move "in the positive direction".

Even so, the reply will "include introducing key points on the framework agreement document and will clearly state the clause on ceasing the war, regardless of whether it is at the beginning or end of the transaction".

Hamas's foreign leadership has finished initial consultations both within the group and with leaders from other Palestinian factions, including the Islamic Jihad organisation.

A Qatari official told Reuters on Thursday that there was "no deal yet", saying that Hamas had "received the proposal positively but we are waiting for their response".

Osama Hamdan, a top Hamas official in Lebanon, said on Saturday that more time was needed to "announce our position".

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He told a news conference that his movement "has repeatedly said" it was "open to discussing any initiative… putting an end to this barbaric aggression against our Palestinian people".

"We will announce our position" soon, "based on... our desire to put an end as quickly as possible to the aggression that our people suffer", he added.

Competing interests

Hamdan's comments underscore the difference between Hamas and Israel's driving motivations in the negotiations.

The Palestinian group's primary aim is to end the Gaza war, while Israeli officials seek a return of the hostages remaining in the strip.

Some 250 captives were taken when Hamas and other Palestinian militants carried out their 7 October attack on Israel.

Israel says 132 remain in Gaza – including at least 28 believed to have been killed, according to updated figures from the prime minister's office.

The 7 October attack also resulted in the deaths of about 1,160 people, according to an AFP tally based on official figures.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has faced divisions within his cabinet and public fury over the fate of the remaining hostages, said Israel "will not accept" demands Hamas has made for an exchange involving thousands of detained Palestinians.

The premier's right-wing Likud party quoted him as saying the terms "should be similar to the previous agreement" in late November, which saw a more limited ratio of Palestinians swapped for captives held in Gaza.

Netanyahu was quoted by American broadcaster CNN as saying "our goal is an absolute victory over Hamas".

He added: "We will kill the Hamas leadership, therefore we must continue to act in all areas of the Gaza Strip.

"The war must not end before that. It will take time — months not years."

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) found late last month that Israel was plausibly breaching the Genocide Convention in Gaza.

The court ordered Israel to abide by several provisional measures ahead of its final ruling in the case brought by South Africa, which is expected to take years.

The ICJ, also known as the World Court, instructed Israel to act to enable the provision of basic services and humanitarian assistance in Gaza.

American pressure

Israel's Channel 13 broadcaster on Sunday said the US is pressing to obtain Netanyahu's approval for a two-stage hostage exchange deal with Hamas that includes a truce of more than four months.

The first phase of the deal, according to the media outlet, would include Israel stopping fighting in Gaza for six weeks and departing from inside the strip's cities, in addition to the release of a small number of Palestinian detainees.

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In return, Hamas would free 35 elderly and sick Israeli hostages, as well as five female Israeli soldiers who insist on being released.

Channel 13 said the second phase of the deal would be more complex.

It would include Israel continuing to observe the ceasefire and releasing a large number of Palestinian detainees, including prominent prisoners in exchange for the release of all surviving male Israeli soldiers held by Hamas.

Channel 13 said that Hamas insists on obtaining a commitment to carry out the two phases of the agreement, fearing that Israel might renege on the deal after the first stage is implemented.

AFP and Reuters contributed to this story.