Negotiators have reached an agreement with Hamas to release the hostages

The negotiators are getting closer A deal with Hamas Israel must release an initial 50 civilians in exchange for allowing more aid including fuel, coincides with a limited pause in the fight, multiple sources told CBS News. Further civilian hostage releases may follow.

At this point, there is no firm deal in hand, but instead a written draft agreement is being worked out between the parties locked in what CBS News described as the most difficult negotiations brokered. USA and QatarAccording to two known sources.

In an interview with “Face the Nation with Margaret Brennan,” White House Deputy National Security Adviser John Feiner He said that “Many of the previous differences have narrowed” in the hostage talks, and the United States is “closer than we ever were to a final agreement.”

Feiner said it would not be helpful to publicly describe budding diplomacy, and acknowledged the caveat that past deals were close before they collapsed. Hopes were high last week that a diplomatic breakthrough was finally coming soon, but two officials in the region cited the Israeli military operation on Al-Shifa hospital as complicated diplomacy with Hamas.

A source familiar with the draft agreement told CBS News that the current proposal calls for the release of 50 hostages on the first day, four days of six hours a day with a limited pause in fighting. If that release and suspension goes as planned, there will be a second release of about 20-25 hostages, according to this source. White House officials declined to comment on the major diplomatic issue.

At a press conference in Doha on Sunday, Qatar’s Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani described the remaining points in the emerging deal between Israel and Hamas as “very minor” logistical matters. .”

Qatari Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al-Thani speaks during a press conference with EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Joseph Borrell in Doha on November 19, 2023.

AFP via Getty Images

Sources familiar with the talks said there were a number of recent complications, including whether overhead surveillance would take place during the releases. Since the total number of more than 200 hostages is only an estimate, Israel has requested some accounts from Hamas captives or other militant groups such as Islamic Jihad. Last week, two unaccounted for hostages, Noah Marciano and Yehudit Weiss, were released. was found dead By the IDF near the 45,00 square meter Al-Shifa Hospital compound in Gaza. The remains of those killed by the Hamas terrorist group and other militants during the October 7 attacks in Israel continue to be identified.

“Obviously, Gaza is a very dangerous place to be a citizen and to be a hostage at this time,” Finer told CBS’s Margaret Brennan, “so there is a need for a period.”

Finer said he wouldn’t use the phrase “time is running out,” but “we feel strongly that this needs to be done as soon as possible.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told CBS News Norah O’Donnell told Israel last week that there were “strong indications” the hostages were in al-Shifa hospital, which she cited as one of the reasons for the Israeli security forces’ decision to enter al-Shifa. However, Netanyahu added, “If they were there they were taken out.”

The US did not develop intelligence to confirm the assessment, but did Publish downgraded intelligence Last week members of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad operated a “command and control node” from al-Shifa hospital and tunnels underneath, using it for both weapons and hostages.

Finer said the U.S. remains confident in its assessment, adding that the Israeli military is “exploiting” the Al Shifa facility to find even more information.

In Manama on Saturday, Brett McGurk, President Biden’s top Middle East adviser, described the hostage negotiations as “intense and ongoing” before heading to Doha for meetings with Qatar’s prime minister that night. In public remarks, McGurk echoed Israel’s call for the release of “a significant number of hostages” in what he described as a “significant pause in the fighting” and a “massive” surge in humanitarian relief. He acknowledged that access to fuel and humanitarian supplies was one of Hamas’s demands. McGurk has not mentioned publicly A previous request by Hamas For the release of an undetermined number of Palestinian women and children from Israeli detention centers.

“That was the bargain they set,” McGurk said from the early days. McGurk said the onus is on Hamas to release all the hostages — “women, children, children, children, all of them.”

CIA Director Bill Burns is back in Washington, but engaged following his meetings with the Mossad chief in recent weeks. President Biden himself has been working the phones, calling the Emir of Qatar on November 12 and as recently as Friday, a sign that a resolution is near.

Qatar uses its relationship with Hamas to mediate and help broker proposals sent from a tight-knit US circle in Doha to Hamas leaders in Gaza and Israel’s five-man war cabinet headed by Netanyahu.

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