Israel ready to make far-reaching concessions for Gaza deal: Reports

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Israel ready to make far-reaching concessions for Gaza deal: Reports
Cairo/Tel Aviv: During the ongoing negotiations in Cairo on a ceasefire in the Gaza war, details have emerged about a proposal for an agreement submitted by the Palestinian militant group Hamas.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday, citing Egyptian officials, that the proposal – which Israel was involved in drafting but has yet to approve – envisages two stages.

The first stage would involve the release of at least 20 hostages within three weeks in exchange for an unspecified number of Palestinian prisoners. The duration could be extended by one day for each additional hostage, it said.

A second stage would include a 10-week ceasefire in which Hamas and Israel would agree to a more extensive release of hostages and a longer pause in fighting that could last up to a year.

“Israel has gone above and beyond in showing flexibility to reach a deal,” the Times of Israel newspaper quoted an Israeli official as saying on Tuesday. For example, the number of hostages to be released by Hamas in the first step has been reduced.

Israel is also open to the possibility of Palestinians who fled the fighting into the south of the sealed-off Gaza Strip returning to the north without Israeli security checks, it said.

One of the options currently being examined is for Egypt to take over the security checks, the Israeli newspaper continued.

The Israeli government is expecting a response from Hamas to the latest offer on Wednesday evening, the newspaper quoted the Israeli official as saying.

Israel is prepared to send a delegation to the indirect negotiations in Cairo in the coming days, the Wall Street Journal quoted Israeli and Egyptian officials as saying.

Israel sees the latest proposal as a “last chance.” If an agreement with Hamas is not reached soon, the planned ground offensive in the city of Rafah in southern Gaza will begin, Israeli media recently quoted senior officials as saying.

Preparations for an offensive in Rafah are continuing, one official told the Wall Street Journal.

US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said on Tuesday that Israel was negotiating in good faith and Hamas should accept the proposal.

Hamas insists on an end to the war, which Israel rejects. The two sides are not negotiating directly but via Egypt, Qatar and the US acting as mediators.

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