Mar 1, 2024 - World

Israel says no more talks until Hamas provides list of hostages still alive in Gaza

Families and supporters of hostages hostages held by Palestinian militants hold a demonstration outside the Israeli Ministry of Defense in Tel Aviv on Dec. 15. Photo: Ahmad Gharabli/AFP via Getty Images

Families and supporters of hostages hostages held by Palestinian militants hold a demonstration outside the Israeli Ministry of Defense in Tel Aviv on Dec. 15. Photo: Ahmad Gharabli/AFP via Getty Images

Israel made it clear to Egypt and Qatar that it will not hold another round of talks until Hamas presents a list of the hostages who are alive and provides a serious response to the number of Palestinian prisoners that the mediators proposed to be released as part of the deal, two Israeli senior officials said.

Why it matters: Calls for a hostage deal that includes a humanitarian ceasefire are growing worldwide, as conditions in Gaza continue to significantly deteriorate and as getting aid into the enclave becomes more difficult and dangerous.

  • President Biden, who said last month he would do everything possible to get a new deal, spoke separately to the Qatari and Egyptian leaders on Thursday and discussed the "urgency of bringing negotiations to a close as soon as possible and expanding the flow of humanitarian assistance into Gaza" the White House said.

Driving the news: Egypt and Qatar promised Israel that if it sent a delegation to Doha this week for talks on the humanitarian aspects of the proposed deal, they would bring answers from Hamas on which hostages are still alive and put pressure on the group to be flexible on the number of Palestinians prisoners it demands to be released as part of any agreement.

  • Senior Israeli officials said that after three days of talks in Qatar, the Israeli delegation returned to Israel on Thursday without answers. "The mediators promised that Hamas would give numbers and that didn't happen," said an Israeli official.

State of play: As part of the framework that was presented by the U.S., Egypt and Qatar in Paris last Friday, Israel would release about 400 Palestinian prisoners, including those who were convicted of murdering Israelis, in exchange for Hamas freeing about 40 Israeli hostages, including the women, female soldiers, men over 50 and men who are in serious medical condition.

  • The framework also included about six weeks of a pause in the fighting in Gaza — a day of pause for every living hostage who is released — as well as a readiness for an initial and gradual return of Palestinian citizens to the northern part of the Strip.

Behind the scenes: Qatari and Egyptian officials spoke to Israeli officials in the last 24 hours and proposed holding another round of talks in Cairo next week. A senior Israeli official said that Israel refused the offer and clarified that until it receives answers from Hamas, it will be impossible to move forward in the negotiations.

  • "There is no point in starting another round of talks until we receive the lists of which of the hostages are alive and until Hamas gives its answer regarding the 'ratio' that defines how many prisoners will be released for each hostage," an Israeli official said.

What's next: Senior Israeli officials said that they are waiting to see if the U.S. pressure on the mediators and the personal phone calls that Biden had with the leaders of Egypt and Qatar on Thursday will bear fruit over the weekend and get Hamas to provide answers.

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