Netanyahu agrees to send negotiating team for Gaza ceasefire, hostage swap talks with Hamas

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Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has agreed to send a negotiating team for hosting swap and ceasefire talks with Hamas, Israeli media said on Thursday, Anadolu Agency reports.

“The war will not end until all objectives are achieved, and not before that,” Netanyahu reported, citing a political source.

The broadcaster, however, did not provide any details about when and where the hostage swap and ceasefire talks with Hamas will take place.

Israeli public broadcaster, KAN, meanwhile, said US President Joe Biden is expected to hold a phone call later Thursday with Netanyahu regarding the new development.

The Israeli Cabinet is set to meet Thursday evening to review Hamas’s response to a Gaza ceasefire proposal that also includes a prisoner swap deal.

CNN, citing an Israeli source familiar with the negotiations, said that Israel and Hamas “appear to be on the brink of a framework agreement for a ceasefire and hostage release deal”.

READ: Israel sends delegation to negotiate hostage deal with Hamas

The source added that Israeli officials believe Hamas’s latest response will enable the two parties to enter detailed negotiations to reach an agreement.

Mediators have delivered a response from Hamas to a proposal that would include the release of hostages held in Gaza and a ceasefire in the territory.

Hamas also confirmed, late Wednesday, that its leader, Ismail Haniyeh, held talks with Qatari, Egyptian and Turkish officials to review developments regarding a ceasefire deal in Gaza.

The group stressed that it has “engaged positively” with the ceasefire developments.

Egypt, Qatar and the US have been trying for months to secure a truce and the release of 120 remaining hostages in Gaza, but to no avail.

Hamas says any deal must end the war and bring a full Israeli withdrawal from Gaza. Israel, however, argues that it will accept only temporary pauses in the fighting and wants to end the governance capabilities of the Resistance group.

Last month, Biden announced an Israeli truce plan, which includes the gradual release of Israeli hostages held in Gaza and the pullback of Israeli forces. It also envisages the freeing of Palestinian prisoners and the reconstruction of Gaza.

Flouting a UN Security Council resolution demanding an immediate ceasefire, Israel has faced international condemnation amid its continued brutal offensive on Gaza since a 7 October, 2023 attack by Hamas.

More than 38,000 Palestinians have since been killed, mostly women and children, and over 87,400 others injured, according to local health authorities.

Over eight months into the Israeli war, vast tracts of Gaza lie in ruins amid a crippling blockade of food, clean water and medicine.

Israel stands accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), which in its latest ruling has ordered Tel Aviv to immediately halt its operation in the southern city of Rafah, where over a million Palestinians had sought refuge from the war before it was invaded on 6 May.

READ: 90% of Palestinian residents have been displaced in Gaza, says UN