update deskIsrael at War

Israel’s War Cabinet orders negotiators to continue hostage talks

The unanimous decision to restart the stalled negotiations was reportedly reached following hours of deliberation.

Demonstrators protest calling for the release of Israeli hostages held in the Gaza Strip outside Hakirya Base in Tel Aviv, May 22, 2024. Photo by Tomer Neuberg/Flash90.
Demonstrators protest calling for the release of Israeli hostages held in the Gaza Strip outside Hakirya Base in Tel Aviv, May 22, 2024. Photo by Tomer Neuberg/Flash90.

Israel’s War Cabinet on Wednesday night approved updated guidelines for the team negotiating the release of the remaining hostages held by Hamas in Gaza.

After four hours of deliberation, described by Walla! News reporter Barak Ravid’s sources as “in-depth and positive,” it was decided unanimously to restart negotiations under new guidelines after the talks stalled some two weeks ago.

A proposal presented by Israel Defense Forces Maj. Gen. Nitzan Alon to renew negotiations was rejected by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday night at the end of that day’s War Cabinet meeting, but this time the premier gave the green light.

An Egyptian intelligence official changed the terms of a ceasefire deal that Israel had already signed off on earlier in May to make it more favorable to Hamas, CNN reported on Tuesday.

Citing three sources with knowledge of the discussions, the U.S.-based news network revealed for the first time the changes made by Cairo, which angered American, Israeli and Qatari negotiators and left negotiations at an impasse.

The move raises questions about Egypt’s role in the ceasefire talks.

Before Egypt underhandedly changed the terms of the deal, U.S. officials had praised Jerusalem for its concessions, calling it “extraordinarily generous on the part of Israel.”

On May 6, Hamas announced that it had agreed to the proposal altered by Egypt. According to Netanyahu, the agreement that Hamas sent back “was very far from Israel’s core demands.”

Talks have been in a stalemate since then.

The terrorist group still holds over 100 hostages kidnapped on Oct. 7.

Cairo has so far rejected an Israeli proposal to work together to reopen Gaza’s Rafah Crossing with Sinai and manage its operation jointly. The Israel Defense Forces took control of the Gaza side of the Rafah Crossing on the morning of May 7.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday called on the Egyptian government to take whatever measures are necessary to ensure the entry of aid into Gaza.

“We do strongly urge our Egyptian partners to do everything that they can on their end of things to make sure that assistance is flowing,” the top diplomat said at a hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

“We need to find a way to make sure that the assistance that would go through Rafah can get through safely,” Blinken also told lawmakers.

On Tuesday, a senior Biden administration official offered a rare rebuke of Cairo’s refusal to work with Jerusalem to coordinate aid shipments to Gaza.

“What should be going into Kerem Shalom [a crossing point between Israel and Gaza] is the U.N. assistance which is now in Egypt. Egypt is holding that back until the Rafah Crossing situation settles out,” the official told reporters during a briefing.

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