Friday, July 19, 2024

Israel-Hamas negotiations in Qatar drag on with Blinken in area

Israel-Hamas negotiations in Qatar drag on with Blinken in area


DOHA, Qatar — Starkly totally different visions of how you can finish the conflict in Gaza are on the heart of thorny and slow-moving negotiations between Israel and Hamas in Doha this week, with officers warning {that a} deal to halt the combating and launch some hostages might be weeks away, or upended fully if Israel strikes forward with a deliberate assault on the southern metropolis of Rafah.

For months, Hamas has insisted on a negotiated finish to the battle, together with a everlasting cease-fire in alternate for the discharge of the hostages its fighters kidnapped from Israel on Oct. 7. Israel has vowed to proceed the conflict till the group, which has managed Gaza for 16 years, is eradicated. Any suspension of hostilities can be short-term, Israel says.

“This isn’t a negotiation that may finish in days — it’ll finish, perhaps, in weeks,” stated an Israeli official briefed on the talks who additionally spoke on the situation of anonymity to debate the delicate negotiations.

Senior Hamas officers stated Wednesday that Israel supplied a “typically destructive response” to their newest proposal. Talking at a information convention in Beirut, Hamas official Osama Hamdan accused Israel of procrastinating “to hamper negotiations and, maybe, make them a lifeless finish.”

The cease-fire negotiations come at a essential time for Gaza, the place consultants say a famine might already be unfolding within the north, and greater than 1 million individuals displaced to Rafah await an Israeli assault.

“As we’re making ready to enter Rafah, and this may take a while, we’re persevering with to function with full power,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated in a recorded video assertion Wednesday.

Israel is underneath monumental strain from the US to desert plans for a floor invasion of Rafah, the place Israeli leaders say an operation is required to destroy Hamas’s few remaining battalions. Netanyahu is sending a delegation to Washington for talks on how you can battle Hamas with out endangering civilians. A minimum of 31,923 individuals have been killed in Gaza because the conflict started, in line with the Gaza Well being Ministry.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken can be touring to Israel on Friday, a State Division spokesman stated, after stops in Saudi Arabia and Egypt. “Blinken will focus on with the management of the Authorities of Israel the continuing negotiations to safe the discharge of all hostages,” spokesman Matthew Miller stated in a press release.

Hamas officers on Wednesday stated Israel’s newest response failed to say a complete cease-fire and lacked assurances that displaced Palestinians might return to their properties as soon as the combating stops.

Two of Hamas’s key calls for embody permitting residents to return to northern Gaza, which Israel has lower off from the remainder of the territory, and linking any pause in combating to an enduring cease-fire and finish to the conflict.

Israel has stated permitting residents to return to the north is a crimson line as a result of it believes Hamas is making an attempt to regroup in areas already cleared by the Israeli army. It additionally desires to proceed the conflict, together with by attacking Rafah, and says the battle will finish when Hamas is defeated in Gaza.

“We can’t cease the conflict. We can’t retreat from Gaza. We won’t enable all of the civilians to return to the north,” stated Yaakov Amidror, a former Israeli nationwide safety adviser.

Hamas official Basem Naim, in an interview in Doha, stated the group has demonstrated higher “flexibility” in negotiations in latest weeks, agreeing to debate a phased deal that may begin with a pause in combating. However any settlement should embody a pathway to a “sustainable cease-fire,” he stated.

The talks across the first section had been centered on Hamas liberating 35 civilian hostages held in Gaza, in alternate for a six-week pause in combating and the discharge of about 350 Palestinians from prisons in Israel, in line with a Western diplomat with information of the talks, who spoke on the situation of anonymity to debate the delicate negotiations.

Israel desires the primary batch of hostages to incorporate 5 feminine troopers, whom Hamas considers to be of upper worth, the Israeli official stated. There are 130 hostages nonetheless held in Gaza, together with 33 Israel has formally stated are lifeless.

“If we hand these conflict prisoners over to the Israelis with out being certain that this may result in an enduring cease-fire, it signifies that we’re giving them essentially the most valuable card in our hand for nothing,” Naim stated, referring to the hostages.

Hamas, in line with the Israeli official, has up to now refused to supply Israel with an inventory of hostages who’re nonetheless alive.

“I haven’t heard optimism within the room,” the official stated of the negotiations. “What I’ve heard is that there’s work to be executed.”

However even when Hamas presents important concessions, some observers say it’s unclear whether or not there may be sufficient political will in Israel for a deal.

“There may be cause for somewhat little bit of optimism as a result of the Hamas solutions indicated some flexibility,” stated Gershon Baskin, who helped negotiate the discharge of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit from Hamas captivity in 2011.

“But it surely’s not clear to me whether or not or not Netanyahu desires an settlement,” he stated. “And that’s evident by the truth that the negotiations will not be being performed by the very best stage of negotiators.”

David Barnea, the top of Israel’s Mossad intelligence company, departed Doha on Tuesday, Qatari Overseas Ministry spokesman Majed Al Ansari stated, leaving a workforce in place to proceed discussions.

Netanyahu seems extra centered on a army victory, Baskin stated, and looking prime Hamas figures akin to Yehiya Sinwar, the group’s chief in Gaza, and Mohammed Deif, the top of its militant wing, the Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades.

Israel assumes “that if we kill Deif and Sinwar, the chain of command will break down,” he stated. “Why assume that the hostages won’t be executed?”

The Israeli army continues to function throughout Gaza, together with in Gaza Metropolis, the place it has carried out a days-long raid on al-Shifa Hospital.

The Israel Protection Forces (IDF), which accuses Hamas of utilizing hospitals as staging grounds for army actions, stated Wednesday that it had killed about 90 “terrorists” within the space of the hospital and questioned over 300 individuals, throughout army operations it claimed had spared “hurt to civilians, sufferers, medical groups, and medical gear.”

Hamas, in a press release, stated dozens of civilians had been executed by Israeli forces. Neither assertion might be independently corroborated.

Mahmoud Bassal, a spokesman for Gaza’s Civil Protection, stated in a press release that “a whole lot of wounded residents” remained within the neighborhood of the hospital.

Israel stated Monday that the raid on al-Shifa had killed Faiq Mabhouh, whom the IDF recognized as a senior official with Hamas’s inside safety division and the coordinator of the group’s militant actions throughout Gaza.

The Hamas-run Al-Aqsa TV community stated Mabhouh was the director of police operations, who coordinated and guarded assist deliveries. The Washington Put up couldn’t instantly verify his function.

Cops, who had been civil servants underneath Hamas’s prewar authorities, performed a key function guarding worldwide assist convoys till final month, when Israel started concentrating on them.

On Wednesday, Israel introduced it had killed 4 different Hamas officers, calling them “senior operatives” whereas additionally saying that they managed the group’s actions in “humanitarian zones.”

Morris reported from Berlin, Fahim from Istanbul and Dadouch from Beirut. Karen DeYoung in Washington and Michael Birnbaum in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, contributed to this report.

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