Resumes Cease-Fire and Hostage Swap Negotiations with Hamas

The Israeli government has directed its negotiating team to resume negotiations for a Gaza cease-fire and hostage exchange deal, according to local media reports on Thursday. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office announced that the War Cabinet has ordered the team “to continue negotiations for the return of the hostages.”

Army Maj. Gen. Nitzan Alon, a key negotiator, presented an updated plan during a War Cabinet meeting following Netanyahu’s rejection of a previous proposal last Saturday, as reported by Israeli public broadcaster KAN. A source informed KAN that while the negotiating team did not secure all its demands, progress was made.

The new proposal reportedly includes a compromise on a contentious issue with Hamas but also involves a tougher stance on other disagreements. Discussions have focused on a staged hostage release in exchange for a temporary truce and the release of several hundred Palestinian detainees held by Israel. A significant hurdle has been Hamas’ demand for Israel to end its military operations.

Hamas agreed to a Gaza cease-fire proposal mediated by Egypt and Qatar on May 6. However, Israel rejected the offer, stating it did not meet its key conditions, and subsequently launched a ground attack on Rafah in southern Gaza. Hamas, holding nearly 130 Israeli hostages, insists on an end to Israel’s offensive in return for any hostage exchange.

Despite a UN Security Council resolution calling for an immediate cease-fire, Israel has continued its military campaign in Gaza. The conflict has resulted in over 35,700 Palestinian deaths, predominantly women and children, with nearly 80,000 others injured since October following a Hamas attack. Gaza remains devastated and under a severe blockade of essential supplies.

Israel faces accusations of “genocide” at the International Court of Justice, which has mandated Tel Aviv to prevent acts of genocide and ensure humanitarian aid reaches civilians in Gaza.–News Desk