Mossad chief David Barnea. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90) Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90
Mossad chief David Barnea

Hamas demands the release of 350 Palestinian prisoners in return for 35 Israeli women, elderly men, and ill hostages in the first phase of the deal.

By Shula Rosen

Mossad chief David Barnea will return to Qatar early in the week to engage in indirect talks with Hamas regarding the new version of the hostage deal, as reported by Egyptian officials.

Barnea is expected to address the areas of contention in the new proposal, including the number of Palestinian prisoners released in exchange for Israeli hostages, humanitarian aid, the return of Palestinians to the north of Gaza and the issue of a ceasefire.

Netanyahu rejected as “absurd” a deal offered by Hamas on Thursday night that called for the release of 1,000 Palestinian prisoners for 35 to 40 Israeli hostages and the withdrawal of the IDF from northern Gaza.

Last month, Hamas said it would not release any hostages until Israel committed to a permanent ceasefire and the withdrawal of all troops from Gaza, terms that Netanyahu referred to as “delusional.”

The most recent iteration of the hostage proposal that will be negotiated Sunday involves a 6-week pause in fighting that will correspond to the release of 35 hostages, including women, and ill and elderly captives in exchange for 350 Palestinian prisoners.

Hamas would then release 5 female soldiers in exchange for 50 Palestinian prisoners each, some of whom are serving life sentences for terrorist crimes.

In the second phase, both sides would commit to a permanent ceasefire and all of the surviving hostages would be released.

In the third phase, the IDF would lift the blockade in Gaza in exchange for bodies of hostages and soldiers.

With the restart in talks, Saudi television network Al-Arabiya reported that there is “still no breakthrough in the negotiations for a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip and the release of hostages.”

Hamas has still not provided Israel with a full list of surviving hostages, a refusal that caused Israel to keep its delegates home from hostage deal negotiations last month.

Although the number of hostages remaining in Gaza is 134, the IDF has reported that 32 of these may not still be alive.

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