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Updated Jan 31, 2024, 7:13am EST
Middle East
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Semafor Signals

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Israel and Hamas near ceasefire agreement

Insights from Haaretz, Semafor, The New Humanitarian, and The New Yorker

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Israel Defense Forces/Handout via REUTERS
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The News

Officials from Hamas are considering a three-part ceasefire agreement with Israel, Reuters reported Wednesday. Negotiations have been deadlocked as some hardline Israeli politicians have outright rejected attempts at a deal.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly said that his country will not end its military operation in Gaza before it achieves its goal of eliminating Hamas, even as analysts have said the hostilities have reached a stalemate.

If agreed, the deal would see the remaining hostages taken by Hamas on Oct. 7 released in three stages, beginning with civilians, in return for the freeing of Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails, along with a temporary truce.

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SIGNALS

Semafor Signals: Global insights on today's biggest stories.

Netanyahu’s coalition government faces collapse if deal agreed

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Source:  
Haaretz

Netanyahu has come under increasing domestic pressure as the war has dragged on, with families of released hostages protesting at his home and storming the Israeli Parliament to demand their relatives be rescued. It’s unlikely that his government will survive a ceasefire negotiation, Haaretz reported.

“Any proposal worthy of serious discussion will demand significant concessions by Israel,” longtime correspondent Amos Harel noted. Netanyahu will be hesitant to agree to such a deal because he will face backlash from members of his coalition government, including extremist cabinet members Itamar Ben-Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich. “No matter what Netanyahu decides, either the right or the left will abandon him,” Harel wrote.

Some Hamas leaders may be exiled to third countries as part of deal

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Source:  
Semafor

Israeli officials are debating a plan that would allow some Hamas officials to flee to third countries — including Algeria, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia — in exchange for new political leaders in Gaza, Semafor’s Jay Solomon reported. Still, Hamas leaders, including Yahya Sinwar and Mohammed Deif, would be only marginally protected in Algiers or Doha given Israel’s stated goal of killing every member of Hamas associated with the Oct. 7 attack, Solomon noted.

But “Israeli officials are contemplating whether a quickened end to the fighting could then bolster a Biden administration-brokered diplomatic initiative” that sought to normalize relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia before the war broke out, he wrote.

Thousands killed in siege as Israel blocks aid to Gaza Strip

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Sources:  
The New Humanitarian, The New Yorker

Nearly 27,000 Palestinians have been killed in the months-long conflict as Israel has carried out daily aerial bombardment on the Gaza Strip. Residents of the enclave have been pushed into an ever-shrinking area, and the humanitarian crisis has become increasingly dire as the war has dragged on.

Critics blame Israel for aid, including food and medicine, having been repeatedly blocked from entering Gaza. Future supplies provided by the United Nations may be threatened after more than a dozen nations pulled funding for UNRWA, the agency responsible for Palestinian refugees, following Israeli allegations that some of its employees were involved in the Oct. 7 attack. Pediatrician Dr. Seema Jilani, who spoke to The New Yorker, recently described graphic scenes in Gaza’s hospitals: She called it “a sea of human tragedy” and added that the injuries she treated were worse than she had observed in other warzones.

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