Israel proposes two-month pause in Gaza war in exchange for all Hamas hostages

Deal doesn't include an agreement to end war, but might be 'the only path that could lead to a ceasefire', said US officials

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a speech in front of a blue star of David
Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu is under increasing pressure to secure the release of the hostages and protect civilians in Gaza
(Image credit: Jack Guez/AFP/Getty)

Israel has reportedly proposed a two-month pause in fighting with Hamas as part of a deal that would include the release of all remaining hostages in Gaza.

The proposal, offered via Qatari and Egyptian mediators, "is the longest period of ceasefire that Israel has offered Hamas since the start of the war", said Barak Ravid, political reporter and Middle East expert, on Axios

Crucially, Ravid added, the proposal "doesn't include an agreement to end the war" in Gaza, where more than 25,000 people have died in retaliatory Israeli bombardment for the 7 October attacks, according to the Hamas-run health ministry. But if the deal were implemented, "IDF operations in Gaza would be significantly smaller in scope and intensity" after the pause. 

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US officials told Axios that the proposal might be "the only path that could lead to a ceasefire in Gaza".

The deal is similar to other Israeli proposals since the seven-day truce ended nearly two months ago, which were rejected by Hamas. However, certain parameters, agreed by Israeli officials 10 days ago, are "more forward-leaning", said Ravid. Hamas had previously insisted it would not release hostages until the fighting in Gaza stopped completely.

The US "has been heavily involved in negotiations" towards a hostage deal, said The Telegraph, as Joe Biden has come under "growing pressure" to help secure peace.

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is also facing mounting criticism, with the families of some hostages storming his country's parliament on Monday and demanding that he secure their release. 

At a meeting with relatives of some of the 130 hostages still being held, Netanyahu said that "contrary to what has been said, there is no real Hamas proposal". 

TV station Channel 12 later published a recording of the meeting. The Times of Israel reported that Netanyahu could be heard saying: "There is a proposal of mine, which I also passed in the war cabinet. We conveyed it and now there is, as they say, a tug of war."

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