Israeli Officials Downplay Prospect of New Hostage Deal With Hamas

Netanyahu is complicating negotiations by adding a new demand

Israeli officials are downplaying the prospects of a new hostage deal with Hamas even as Israeli negotiators head to Qatar to discuss the details, The Times of Israel reported on Monday.

According to media reports, the deal presented on Friday during talks between Qatar, Egypt, the US, and Israel would involve the release of 40 Israeli hostages in exchange for a six-week ceasefire and the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners.

An Israeli official told the Times that the deal still hasn’t been presented to Hamas and is only being discussed with mediators. “We need to be careful,” the official said. “We’re still talking to ourselves.”

Hamas has been seeking a permanent ceasefire, and a second Israeli official told the Times that the main gap is “the end of fighting, the IDF leaving the Gaza Strip.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made clear that the Israeli slaughter in Gaza would continue after any truce and said a hostage deal would only delay an Israeli invasion of Rafah, the southern Gaza Strip city that’s packed with 1.5 million Palestinians.

According to Haaretz, Netanyahu has also complicated the negotiations by adding a demand for the freed Palestinian prisoners to be deported to a third country, possibly Qatar or Turkey. He added the demand after Qatar, Egypt, and the US presented the new outline for a hostage deal.

“Netanyahu is giving the hostages’ families the feeling that he prefers to stick spokes in the wheels, precisely at this critical time in drafting the agreement,” one senior Israeli official told Haaretz.

The official pointed to Netanyahu’s comments about the Rafah offensive as another example of the prime minister impeding negotiations, saying it reduces Hamas’ motive to be more flexible. “Even if this is a negotiating tactic, his performances are liable to cause damage,” the official said.

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the news editor of, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.