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A new prisoner exchange deal proposed by Hamas through Qatar and Egyptian intermediaries has been rejected by Israel, according to a report by Axios on Monday.

The Hamas proposal reportedly included a three-phase process, with each phase including pauses in the fighting for more than a month in exchange for the release of hostages.

The first phase would see Israel gradually pulling its forces out of Gaza, which would coincide with Hamas releasing 40 hostages. The release of Palestinian prisoners was also thought to have been part of the deal during this phase.

The last phase would have culminated with the end of the war, with Hamas releasing Israeli soldiers currently imprisoned in Gaza.

According to Al Hadath TV, the deal involved the release of 500 Palestinian prisoners approved by Hamas. This was reportedly one of the issues that ultimately saw Israel reject the deal.

The Israeli war cabinet convened to discuss the Hamas proposal and ultimately told the Qatari and Egyptian mediators that it was “unacceptable”.

“The proposal we received from Hamas on Sunday was totally off base and we asked the mediators to try and produce a more acceptable proposal. They are working on it and let’s see what happens,” an Israeli official told Axios.

“We are in a pre-negotiation stage. The negotiations are no longer suspended, but they are not making any clear progress yet,” the official added.

Hamas still holds 126 Israeli and 11 non-Israeli hostages, with 110 of the hostages having been previously released as part of the last deal.

Israel continues to hold over 7,000 Palestinian political prisoners, including over 200 children and 2,000 prisoners under administrative detention – without charge or trial.

The last deal saw hundreds of hostages/prisoners released on both sides [Getty]

Source: The New Arab Staff

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