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Negotiators are close to reaching an agreement with Hamas to release the hostages


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Negotiators are close to reaching an agreement Agreement with Hamas An initial release of 50 civilians in exchange for Israel allowing more aid Including fuelMultiple sources told CBS News that this coincided with a limited cessation of fighting. The release of more civilian hostages will likely follow.

At this point, there is no firm agreement in hand, but rather a written draft agreement being passed between the parties that remain locked in what were described to CBS News as very difficult talks reached with US assistance. America and QatarAccording to two informed sources.

In an interview with “Face the Nation with Margaret Brennan,” White House Deputy National Security Advisor John Feiner He said that “Many previously existing areas of disagreement have been narrowed” in the hostage talks, and the United States is “closer than we were to reaching a final agreement.”

Viner said it would not be helpful to detail the developing diplomacy publicly, and acknowledged the caveat that previous deals were close before they collapsed. Hopes were high last week that there would be an imminent breakthrough in diplomacy, but two officials in the region pointed to the Israeli military move on Al-Shifa Hospital as having complicated diplomacy with Hamas.

A source familiar with the draft agreement told CBS News that the proposal as currently drafted would include the release of 50 hostages on the first day with a limited cessation of fighting that would last about four days for six hours a day. If this release and pause happen as planned, there will be a second release of about 20-25 hostages, according to this source. White House officials declined to comment on the sensitive diplomacy.

In a press conference held Sunday in Doha, Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani described the remaining sticking points in the emerging agreement between Israel and Hamas as “very simple” logistical issues, and said that the parties were “close to reaching an agreement.” “.

Qatari Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani speaks during a press conference with the European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell in Doha on November 19, 2023.

AFP via Getty Images

Sources familiar with the talks said there were several complex recent issues, including whether public surveillance would occur during deployments. Israel also demanded that Hamas provide some information about the prisoners it holds or can obtain from other armed groups such as Islamic Jihad, as the total number of more than 200 hostages is still only an estimate. Last week, two missing persons believed to be hostages, Noa Marciano and Yehudit Weiss, were found. Found dead Close to the 4,500 square meter Shifa Hospital complex in Gaza. The remains of those slaughtered by Hamas and other militants during the October 7 attack are still being identified in Israel.

“Gaza is clearly a very dangerous place for civilians to be held hostage at this point,” Weiner told CBS’s Margaret Brennan, “so there’s a need for time.”

Weiner said he would not use the phrase “running out of time,” but “we feel very strongly that this should be done as soon as possible.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu He told CBS News Norah O’Donnell said last week that Israel had “strong indications” that hostages were being held at Shifa Hospital, one of the reasons he gave for the IDF’s decision to enter Shifa Hospital. But Netanyahu added, “If they had been there, they would have been taken out.”

The United States did not provide intelligence to confirm this assessment, but it did Low intelligence version Last week, members of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad operated a “command and control node” from Al-Shifa Hospital and the tunnels beneath it, and used them for both weapons and hostages.

Weiner said the United States remained confident in its assessment, and said the IDF was still “exploiting” the Shifa facility to find more information.

On Saturday in Manama, Brett McGurk, President Biden’s senior Middle East adviser, described the hostage talks as intense and ongoing before heading to Doha for meetings with the Qatari prime minister that night. In public comments, McGurk reiterated Israel’s call to release a “large number of hostages” in order to achieve a “significant cessation of fighting” and what he described as a “massive” wave of humanitarian aid. He admitted that one of Hamas’ demands is to obtain fuel and humanitarian supplies. McGurk has not publicly stated about A previous request from Hamas To release an unspecified number of Palestinian women and children from Israeli detention centers.

“That’s the deal they set,” McGurk said from the early days. McGurk said the responsibility falls on Hamas to release all the hostages — “the women, the children, the young, the infants, all of them.”

CIA Director Bill Burns returned to Washington, but remained engaged following his meetings in recent weeks with the Mossad chief. President Biden himself has been handling the phones, calling the Emir of Qatar on November 12 and into Friday, a sign that a solution is close.

Qatar is using its relationship with Hamas to mediate, and the United States is helping mediate proposals that are passed from a tight circle in Doha to Hamas leaders in Gaza as well as Israel’s five-person war cabinet led by Netanyahu.

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