Progress in Israel-Hamas Ceasefire Negotiations Amidst Sticking Point Progress in Israel-Hamas Ceasefire Negotiations Amidst Sticking Point

By: Alex Freidmen

Reports suggest that Israel and Hamas are nearing a month-long ceasefire, potentially involving an exchange of Israeli hostages for Palestinian prisoners. Nonetheless, the struggle to achieve a permanent end to the Gaza war remains a significant point of contention between the two parties.

Event Progress: Ceasefire discussions have been ongoing for weeks, with mediators from various nations proposing a phased approach to the negotiation. The proposal includes a temporary cessation of hostilities, the release of Palestinian prisoners, and increased aid to Gaza. Talks initiated on Dec. 28 have now narrowed the ceasefire period to approximately 30 days, after Hamas initially suggested a longer pause. However, Hamas is demanding an agreement on the terms of a permanent ceasefire before proceeding with the interim plan.

Conversations between Israel and Hamas are taking place through the mediators, with U.S. Middle East envoy Brett McGurk present in the region for discussions about the hostages. The U.S. is purportedly in favor of a more extended “humanitarian pause” in the conflict.

Two Egyptian security sources have revealed efforts to persuade Hamas to accept a one-month truce, followed by a permanent ceasefire. However, Hamas is seeking guarantees on the implementation of the deal’s second phase before agreeing to the initial truce.

Significance: The ceasefire negotiations follow a marked escalation in the conflict, resulting in 24 Israeli soldiers being killed in a single day— the highest number of Israeli casualties in a day since the conflict with Hamas commenced. Despite this, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected Hamas’ terms, emphasizing that there is no alternative to achieving total victory in the conflict.

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U.S. intelligence agencies estimate that Israel has neutralized 20-30% of Hamas’s fighters, falling short of Israel’s objective to dismantle the group. Simultaneously, the U.S. has been collaborating with Saudi Arabia and Egypt on a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine, which could potentially impact the ongoing conflict.

Image Via Shutterstock

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