Hamas softens stance in truce talks

A senior Hamas official confirmed that the group is prepared to reconsider its insistence on Israel committing to a permanent ceasefire before signing any deal….reports Asian Lite News

Hamas has signalled a significant shift in its stance towards negotiations with Israel, indicating a willingness to compromise on key demands in pursuit of a truce and potential hostage release agreement. A senior Hamas official confirmed to CNN that the group is prepared to reconsider its insistence on Israel committing to a permanent ceasefire before signing any deal.

This development, first reported by Reuters, marks a pivotal moment in the ongoing efforts to reach a ceasefire in Gaza. Hamas, which has historically demanded Israel agree to a permanent cessation of hostilities as a precondition, is now open to begin negotiations on a temporary truce without this prior commitment, according to CNN.

According to the Hamas official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, the revised approach would allow for talks on a permanent ceasefire to proceed during the initial phase of the agreement, expected to last six weeks. Crucially, mediators would ensure the implementation of a temporary truce, facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza, and oversee the withdrawal of Israeli troops while negotiations continue.

The draft stipulates that “no later than the 16th day, indirect negotiations will begin between the two parties to conclude the conditions for the implementation of phase 2 of this agreement. The negotiations should be completed before the end of the 5th week of the first phase.”

The shift in Hamas’ position comes amidst renewed indirect negotiations between Israeli and Hamas representatives in Qatar. These talks resumed following authorisation from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to engage in detailed discussions aimed at brokering a comprehensive agreement.

David Barnea, Director of Mossad, reportedly travelled to Qatar to meet with mediators and discuss the terms of a potential new framework agreement encompassing both a ceasefire and the release of hostages, as reported by CNN.

While details of an Israeli draft proposal have surfaced in local media, including provisions for negotiations to begin within a specified timeframe, the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office has refrained from confirming the authenticity of these documents.

Efforts to secure a deal between Hamas and Israel have encountered significant challenges in recent months, with Netanyahu under pressure from various quarters, including right-wing ministers and families of hostages, to secure the release of Israeli prisoners held by Hamas.

President Joe Biden of the United States previously unveiled a three-phase proposal in May, outlining conditions aimed at facilitating the eventual release of all remaining hostages in exchange for a permanent ceasefire and the withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza.

The conflict between Israel and Hamas escalated following Hamas’ attacks on October 7, which resulted in widespread casualties. The subsequent military campaign by Israel has been marked by a high toll on both sides, underscoring the urgency of reaching a sustainable agreement.

In response to recent developments, the Prime Minister’s Office issued a statement acknowledging that “there are still gaps” between the negotiating parties, CNN reported.

War escalates

Hezbollah has said that it attacked with drones at Israel’s technical and electronic reconnaissance centre in Mount Hermon, north of Golan Heights, in response to Israel’s killing of a senior Hezbollah member on Saturday.

The well-equipped centre was set on fire, and its targeted devices were destroyed in the air attack by “successive squadrons of assault drones”, the Lebanese military group said in a statement on Sunday.

The group said the centre in Mount Hermon was targeted for the first time since the 1973 Arab-Israeli war, and the operation is considered the largest by Hezbollah’s air force since October 8, 2023, Xinhua news agency reported.

Lebanese military sources told the news agency that the Lebanese army positions monitored the launch of several drones on Sunday afternoon from the Lebanese side to Israel, some of which had been intercepted by the Iron Dome system and Israeli warplanes.

On Saturday, the Israeli military killed Hezbollah commander Maysam Al-Attar in a drone strike on the city of Baalbek, eastern Lebanon.

Tensions along the Lebanon-Israel border escalated on October 8, 2023, following a barrage of rockets launched by Hezbollah toward Israel in solidarity with a surprise attack by Gaza-ruling Palestinian faction Hamas into Israel the day before. Israel then retaliated by firing heavy artillery toward southeastern Lebanon.

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