Hamas official: Gaza ceasefire deal cannot be linked to hostages’ return

Hamas spokesperson Hossam Badran claimed that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “does not want to reach an agreement and is deceiving his people and the families of the prisoners to cover up his political and security failure,” Hezbollah-owned Al-Ahed News reported.  

Hamas’ priorities from ongoing negotiations are “stopping the aggression, bringing in aid, the return of the displaced, and a clear reconstruction plan,” said Badran, according to Al-Ahed News.

Badran also said that the US cannot be considered a mediator in negotiations but is a “political and military partner supporting the occupation,” and the American administration is a primary obstacle to any agreement, the news site reported.

Israel accepted on Saturday an American compromise for the number of Palestinian prisoners to be released for Israeli hostages and is awaiting a response from Hamas, according to Israeli media reports.

The details of the reported deal

Israel agreed to release between 700-800 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for 40 hostages, Israeli media reported on Sunday evening, citing Israeli officials. Prisoners to be released include hundreds who are currently serving life sentences for murdering Israelis in terror attacks, according to Walla’s Barak Ravid.

Demonstrators protest calling for the release of Israeli hostages in Tel Aviv, March 23, 2024 (credit: ERIK MARMOR/FLASH90)

Israeli Mossad Chief David Barnea flew to Qatar Friday to meet CIA director William Burns, Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed Al-Thani, and Egyptian Intelligence Minister Abbas Kamal to discuss a hostage deal that US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he believes is possible to agree on, although there is “still difficult work to get there.”

The issue of the number of prisoners exchanged for each hostage was a sticking point, prompting the need for the American compromise, according to reports.

Tovah Lazaroff and Jerusalem Post Staff contributed to this report. 

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