War Cabinet Orders Resumption of Gaza Hostage Negotiations

By Yoni Weiss

An Israeli airstrike in the central Gaza Strip, on Wednesday. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

The War Cabinet has directed negotiators to resume efforts for the release of hostages held in Gaza, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s office announced early Thursday. This move follows a two-week deadlock in talks. Despite this, Israel’s position of not halting the ongoing war remains unchanged.

Following the release of a video showing the abduction of five female IDF soldiers from the Nachal Oz base on Oct. 7 on Wednesday, sources familiar with the negotiations expressed continued pessimism. They highlighted that as long as Israel maintains its refusal to cease the war, reaching an agreement with Hamas will remain challenging. The negotiating team, under these constraints, is not expected to introduce radically new ideas to the War Cabinet.

Yediot reported that Maj. Gen. (Res.) Nitzan Alon, a leading Israeli negotiator, is set to propose a “concrete offer” at the behest of Netanyahu. This proposal aligns with the Egyptian framework that Hamas agreed to on May 6. However, CNN disclosed that Egyptian mediators secretly modified the proposal without informing key parties, including the CIA, Qatar, the United States, or Israel. Despite these amendments, Hamas responded positively to the revised proposal. A Cairo official cautioned that any doubts cast on Egypt’s role could lead to its withdrawal from mediating.

Netanyahu has previously criticized the Israeli negotiating team’s effectiveness and demanded a proposal that does not require Israel to cease its military operations. Sources have lamented that earlier offers were more favorable than current ones, noting a missed opportunity to secure a better deal.

The War Cabinet’s discussions on Wednesday night were influenced by reactions to the video of the soldiers’ abduction, first shown to ministers in March. War Cabinet Minister Benny Gantz subtly critiqued Netanyahu, emphasizing the need for tough decisions to create a different reality. Netanyahu reiterated his commitment to bringing the hostages back.

According to The New Arab, Egypt has renewed its push for a ceasefire in Gaza and a hostage deal following the War Cabinet’s decision. An Egyptian source indicated that Cairo officials have initiated contacts to resume negotiations. Israeli professional delegations continue to visit Cairo weekly to discuss security agreements and coordinate efforts to reopen the Rafah crossing.

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