Qatar’s prime minister said Sunday that only “minor” issues are preventing a deal being reached between Israel and Hamas on Israeli hostages being held in Gaza.
The comments from Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman al-Thani came after The Washington Post reported on Saturday that an agreement on Hamas releasing at least 50 hostages in exchange for a five-day pause in fighting was close.
The Post report’s initial headline said a “tentative deal” was reached between the US, Israel, and Hamas, but it was later changed to say a deal was “close.” The report prompted denials from both the US and Israel.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dismissed “a lot of incorrect reports” on an imminent hostage deal and added that “as of now there is no deal.” White House National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson said there was “no deal yet, but we continue to work hard to get a deal.”
Qatar has been mediating the talks, and Prime Minister al-Thani said he believed good progress has been made. “The challenges facing the agreement are just practical and logistical. There has been good progress in the past few days,” he said.
“The deal is going through ups and downs from time to time throughout the last few weeks,” al-Thani said. “But I think that you know I’m now more confident that we are close enough to reach a deal that can bring the people safely back to their homes.”
Since the October 7 Hamas attack on southern Israel and the start of the Israeli onslaught on Gaza, Israel has rejected potential hostage deals. According to The New York Times, a potential agreement that would have seen the release of 50 Israeli hostages was derailed when Israel launched its ground invasion of Gaza, which started on October 27.