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The Israeli government and the Palestinian Resistance movement Hamas could “agree in principle” that a prisoner exchange deal could be implemented during a month-long ceasefire, Reuters news agency reported on Tuesday, citing informed sources.

“Intense mediation efforts led by Qatar, Washington and Egypt in recent weeks have focused on a phased approach to release different categories of Israeli hostages – starting with civilians and ending with soldiers – in return for a break in hostilities, the release of Palestinian prisoners and more aid to Gaza,” Reuters reported.

The Negotiations

According to the news agency, the latest round of negotiations started on December 28 with Hamas suggesting a pause of several months.

“However, Hamas has since refused to move forward with the plans until the future conditions of a permanent ceasefire are agreed, according to six sources. Most of the sources consulted for this story requested anonymity in order to speak freely about sensitive matters,” the report stated.

According to Reuters, “while Israel has sought to negotiate one stage at a time, Hamas is seeking ‘a package deal’ that agrees to a permanent ceasefire” before the first prisoner exchange takes place.

“Israel and Hamas are speaking through the mediators, not talking directly,” the report added.

A White House spokesman has reportedly said that Washington would support a longer ‘humanitarian pause’. However, Egyptian security sources reportedly told Reuters that “there was work underway to convince Hamas to accept a one-month truce to be followed by a permanent ceasefire.”

“Asked about the negotiations, senior Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri told Reuters on Monday the organization was open to discussing ideas but that no deal was yet in place,” the news agency reported.

“We are open to all initiatives and proposals, but any agreement must be based on ending the aggression and the occupation’s complete pullout from Gaza Strip,” Abu Zuhri reportedly added.

A senior Hamas official reportedly told Reuters that “one offer by Israel is to end the war if Hamas removes six senior leaders from Gaza,” adding that Hamas “absolutely” rejected the proposal. The list of leaders would include Yahya Sinwar and Mohamed al-Deif, who are Israel’s top targets at the moment.

Israel: ‘Complete Victory’

Israeli officials reiterated on Tuesday that they will continue their genocidal campaign in Gaza until achieving “complete victory.”

“We bow our heads in memory of our fallen, and yet we do not for a moment stop striving for an irreplaceable goal – the achievement of complete victory,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a joint video statement with Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and War Cabinet Minister Benny Gantz.

Israeli government spokesperson Eylon Levy also said at a press conference on Tuesday that efforts were ongoing to secure the release of Israeli captives. He added that Israel would not agree to a ceasefire deal that leaves Hamas in power in the enclave.

According to Gaza’s Ministry of Health, 25,490 Palestinians have been killed, and 63,354 wounded in Israel’s ongoing genocide in Gaza starting on October 7. Palestinian and international estimates say that the majority of those killed and wounded are women and children.

During the brief truce, people in Gaza tried to reclaim a degree of normalcy amid the mass destruction created by Israel. (Photo: Mahmoud Abu Hamda, via social media)

Source: The Palestine Chronicle