Israel-Hamas war rages, hostages talks, Gaza crisis

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As the Gaza war nears its fifth month, with more than 25,000 Palestinians — civilians and combatants — dead and Israel nowhere close to achieving its objective of destroying Hamas, no one seems to have come up with a concrete proposal that’s palatable to both parties to pause the conflict, let alone end it. But there are suggestions, however half-baked, from both sides, that show a willingness to talk.

Indeed, Qatar — the main go-between — says there are “serious discussions” with Israel and Hamas, and is receiving “constant replies” from both sides. They’re not “negotiations” yet, says the White House. But with indirect talks ongoing, we seem to be inching toward what Ofer Shelah, senior researcher with Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies (INSS), describes as a “Zopa” — a zone of possible agreement.

On Monday, Axios reported Israel had proposed a two-month truce in exchange for the release of all the 100-plus hostages still held in Gaza. Later that day, CNN learned that Mossad chief David Barnea had suggested allowing Hamas leaders to go into exile as part of a broader ceasefire.

On Tuesday, The Wall Street Journal said Hamas was now open to releasing some of the hostages in exchange for a pause in the fighting. And Reuters reported that Israel and Hamas had agreed in principle to a one-month truce, during which abductees would be freed and Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails released.

Read more on how Israel and Hamas may be inching toward a deal to end the war.


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