Hamas has offered to release all remaining Israeli hostages in exchange for a 135-day cease-fire, a full Israeli withdrawal from Gaza and the release of well over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners.
The terrorist organization made the offer to Israel on Tuesday in response to previous terms sent to them last week by Egypt and Qatar. The three-phase plan would see Israeli hostages released in stages – women and children first – in exchange for the Palestinian prisoners being held in Israel, including 500 Hamas would choose from a list of those serving life sentences..
Male hostages over the age of 19 would be released after the first 45-day phase is complete. Israeli forces would fully withdraw from Gaza at the same time.
Notably, the deal also specifically calls out UNRWA, with Hamas demanding that the organization maintain its role in overseeing aid to Gaza. The demand comes after Israel presented extensive evidence suggesting that there were at least 190 Hamas collaborators within the U.N. group.
Israel has previously said that it will not allow UNRWA to continue to operate in the region.
The deal also calls for a permanent cease-fire to be implemented after the third phase of the agreement is complete. Israel’s government has vowed that the war will not end until Hamas is destroyed, however.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office confirmed they had received the offer late Tuesday, but they have not issued a response.
Meanwhile, Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani told reporters he was “optimistic” about the deal in a joint press conference with Secretary of State Antony Blinken. President Biden, however, called the offer “a little over the top.”
“We are not sure where it is going and we continue to negotiate,” Biden said Tuesday.
Blinken said during Tuesday’s press conference that the negotiations with Hamas would continue.
“There is still a lot of work to be done, but we continue to believe that an agreement is possible and, indeed, essential,” Blinken said. “We will continue to work relentlessly to achieve it.”
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