Washington is hoping that a ceasefire deal will lead to a permanent halt to hostilities in the Gaza Strip, The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday.
“U.S. negotiators are pushing for a cease-fire deal that could stop the war in Gaza long enough to stall Israel’s military momentum and potentially set the stage for a more lasting truce,” according to the Journal report, which cited U.S. and Arab officials familiar with the talks.
Meanwhile, Hamas is continuing to demand that Israel end the war and withdraw its forces from Gaza as part of a hostage release deal, Reuters reported on Thursday, citing a Palestinian official close to the talks.
A delegation from the terrorist group led by political bureau chief Ismail Haniyeh is in Cairo for talks on a ceasefire proposal negotiated in Paris on Sunday with the participation of Israeli, American, Egyptian and Qatari mediators. The group reportedly met on Thursday with head of Egyptian intelligence, Maj. Gen. Abbas Kamel, who was at the Paris talks.
Hamas said that it was studying the text of the Paris proposal and will deliver a response.
“I expect that Hamas will not reject the paper, but it might not give a decisive agreement either,” the Palestinian official said.
“Instead, I expect them to send a positive response, and reaffirm their demands: for the agreement to be signed, it must ensure Israel will commit to ending the war in Gaza and pull out from the enclave completely.”
Ending the war is a nonstarter in Jerusalem, where Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly said that Israeli will not stop fighting until the three targets set out by the War Cabinet are completed: defeating Hamas, returning the hostages and ensuring that Gaza can never again threaten Israel.
Hamas is holding 136 hostages out of the 253 kidnapped during its Oct. 7 assault on the northwestern Negev, in which terrorists murdered some 1,200 people and wounded thousands more.
The Palestinian official told the news agency that the Paris text includes a first phase of 40 days during which combat would stop while Hamas releases the remaining civilian captives. Soldiers and the bodies of dead hostages would be handed over in further phases. The agreement would also reportedly include the release of an as-yet-unknown number of Palestinian terrorists from Israeli prisons and a massive increase in humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip.
According to the Journal report, the six-week first phase would also include a halt to all Israeli drone surveillance along with the ability for Gazans to move around the Gaza Strip.