Israeli cabinet meeting to decide on Hamas hostage deal and short-term ceasefire in Gaza

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will convene Israel’s war cabinet and then his full cabinet on Tuesday, amid progress in negotiations for a temporary ceasefire in the country’s war with the Palestinian group Hamas, which is expected to see the release of some hostages Israelis.

The proposed deal will allow for the gradual release of an initial group of 50 hostages held by Hamas during the recess windows, CBS News has confirmed. The proposed deal, brokered by the United States and Qatar, will include a limited six-hour pause in fighting for four days, according to sources close to the deal. During the six-hour break, overheard surveillance will be stopped.

During this period, aid will also be allowed into Gaza, with 300 trucks a day carrying aid, including cooking oil for bakeries and fuel for hospitals, a source familiar told CBS News.

The deal will allow the release of Palestinian prisoners – women and children – held in Israeli detention centers, with the release of three Palestinian prisoners for every hostage held by Hamas, CBS News has confirmed. This 3 to 1 ratio is notable because there is no limit to the potential release of prisoners. In other words, the more hostages Hamas finds and releases, the more Palestinians will be released from prison.

If the first phase goes as planned, Hamas will release around 20 more hostages and the pause in fighting will be extended.

The children, of whom there are believed to be around 40 hostages in Gaza, were expected to have priority in the first wave of prisoners released by Hamas. The only American child taken by Hamas is a 3-year-old girl.

Sources told CBS News that the deal called for the release in installments of at least 75 hostages, and potentially more, by Hamas.

“We are making progress. I don’t think it’s worth saying too much, even right now, but I hope good news comes soon,” Netanyahu told reservists on Tuesday, without providing further details.

March from Tel-Aviv to Jerusalem of the families of the hostages held by Hamas

Families of hostages held by Hamas lead a march from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, ending with a demonstration in front of the Knesset, on November 18, 2023. About 30,000 people joined the last leg of the 5-day march. TAMAR SHEMESH/Middle East Images/AFP via Getty Images

The terms of the agreement have not yet been officially confirmed by Israel.

“In light of developments regarding the release of our abductees, the Prime Minister will convene the War Cabinet at 6pm, the Political Security Cabinet at 7pm and the Cabinet at 8pm,” the office said of Netanyahu in a social message. media post Tuesday. The 8pm (local) time of the latest of these meetings, by the entire Israeli government, translates to 1pm Eastern.

The Israeli Supreme Court would also have to approve any deal that involves the release of Palestinian prisoners, but the court can essentially waive its approval and defer the decision to the government.

If the deal is finalized, an operations center is expected to be created in Doha, Qatar, to monitor the transfers. The neutral Red Crescent, which is part of the International Committee of the Red Cross, is expected to take custody of the Hamas hostages and hand them over to the Israel Defense Forces.

Officials familiar with the negotiations, including President Biden, have said for days that a deal seemed increasingly closer.

“We have been working intensely on this topic for weeks, as you all know,” Biden said at the White House on Tuesday. “Now we are very close, very close. We could bring some of these hostages home very soon. But I don’t want to go into the details of things because nothing will be done until it is done. And when we have more to say, we will, but the Things seem to be going well at the moment.”

Details of the long-sought agreement to release the hostages and the short-term ceasefire were still coming to light Tuesday ahead of Israeli government meetings.

A senior Hamas member told CBS News that the deal called for the group — long designated a terrorist organization by the United States and Israel — to hand over 50 Israeli hostages in exchange for the release of 150 Palestinian prisoners from Israeli prisons, or their release of three Hamas prisoners. for every kidnapped person released by Hamas. But there is no upper limit on the number of prisoners to be released.

A source close to the talks told CBS News that these numbers represent no limits and that the potential ceasefire could be extended if Hamas continues to release Israeli hostages, and other Palestinian prisoners could also be released.

The source said most of the Palestinian prisoners would be released to live in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, although some were from Gaza.

Israel said Hamas militants took around 240 hostages during their Oct. 7 rampage in southern Israel, in which 1,200 people were killed. So far only four hostages have been released by the group, and another, an Israeli soldier, was rescued by his fellow soldiers in Gaza.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

Israel and Hamas at war

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