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Hamas negotiators arrive in Cairo for Gaza truce talks

Hamas negotiators began intensified talks on Saturday on a possible Gaza truce that would see a halt to the fighting and the return to Israel…

Hamas negotiators began intensified talks on Saturday on a possible Gaza truce that would see a halt to the fighting and the return to Israel of some hostages, a Hamas official told Reuters.

The Director of CIA, William Burns, is already in Cairo for the indirect diplomacy.

The Hamas delegation arrived from the Palestinian Islamist movement’s political office in Qatar, which, along with Egypt, has tried to mediate a follow-up to a brief November ceasefire amid mounting international dismay over the soaring death toll in Gaza and the plight of its 2.3 million inhabitants.

Taher Al-Nono, a Hamas official and advisor to Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh, said meetings with Egyptian and Qatari mediators had begun and Hamas was dealing with their proposals “with full seriousness and responsibility.”

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However, he reiterated the group’s demand that any deal should include an Israeli pullout from Gaza and an end to the war, conditions that Israel had previously rejected.

“Any agreement to be reached must include our national demands; the complete and permanent ending of the aggression, the full and complete withdrawal of the occupation from Gaza Strip.

The agreement should include “the return of the displaced to their homes without restriction, and a real prisoner swap deal, in addition to the reconstruction and ending the blockade,” the Hamas official told Reuters.

An Israeli official signalled its core position on this was unchanged, saying “Israel will under no circumstances agree to ending the war as part of a deal to free our hostages.”

The war began after Hamas stunned Israel with a cross-border raid on Oct. 7 in which 1,200 people were killed and 252 hostages taken, according to Israeli tallies.

More than 34,600 Palestinians have been killed – 32 of them in the past 24 hours – and more than 77,000 have been wounded in Israel’s military operation, according to Gaza’s health ministry. The bombardment has laid waste to much of the coastal enclave.

Saturday’s Cairo talks come as Qatar reviews its role as mediator, according to an official familiar with Doha’s thinking.

Qatar may cease hosting the Hamas political office, said the official, who did not know if, in such a scenario, the Palestinian group’s delegates might also be asked to leave. (Reuters/NAN)


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