Direct negotiations begin between Hamas and Israel to search for a ceasefire agreement in Gaza

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Israeli sources revealed on Monday, that negotiations on reaching a prisoner exchange deal between Israel and the Hamas officially began with the arrival of the Israeli delegation to Qatar.

The head of the Shin Bet, Ronen Bar, was absent from the Israeli delegation headed by the head of the Mossad, David Barnea, amid expectations that the talks would be long and difficult, because they would be held indirectly with Hamas leadership.

Earlier on Monday evening, the Israeli delegation led by Mossad Chief David Barnea arrived in Qatar, as according to Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper, he arrived with a delegation in Doha, as the negotiations has officially begun.

Yedioth Ahronoth pointed out that the head of the Mossad will return to Israel at dawn on Tuesday, while a high-level Israeli work team consisting of officials from the Mossad, Military Intelligence (Aman), and the General Security Service (Shin Bet) will remain in Qatar for several days.

Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper quoted an untouched Israeli official as saying, “The negotiations have begun and will be long, arduous and complex… A great deal of patience is needed”.

He added, “It’s important for the families of the kidnapped people to know that hard work is being done around the clock, but it will take time and will be difficult and complicated”.

For its part, the private Israeli Channel 12 said that the negotiations are taking place in a private complex in a Doha hotel.

“There is a corridor separating the room of Israeli representatives from the room of Hamas representatives, and they are not expected to meet, and the Qatari and Egyptian mediators in the talks will move between the two rooms”.

The channel quoted an unnamed Israeli official as saying that the negotiations could take about two weeks.

The Israeli official said, “Hamas representatives in Qatar won’t make decisions, and the one who will make the decision is the head of Hamas movement in the Gaza Strip, Yahya Sinwar, and every point we want to move forward with will take between 24 and 36 hours until his answer comes”.

According to the channel 12, there are many gaps that need to be filled, including Hamas’s demand that all Palestinian residents of the northern Gaza Strip return to their homes, which Israel rejects and insists on the return of only women, children, and elderly men.

Hamas also demands a comprehensive cessation of the war during the second phase of the deal, which Israel rejects and says it’s only prepared for a temporary truce, according to the same source.

Hamas also demands that a list of the names of Palestinian prisoners with high sentences who have been convicted by Israel of killing Israelis be identified, and who are scheduled to be released as part of the deal, which the Israeli position on is not yet clear.

According to the private Israeli Channel 13, the Ministers of National Security, Itamar Ben Gvir, and Finance Minister, Bezalel Smotrich, threatened to withdraw from the Israeli government, if the potential deal with Hamas included the release of dozens of Palestinian prisoners who were convicted of killing Israelis.

Israel estimates that there are about 134 Israeli prisoners in Gaza, while it holds at least 8,800 Palestinians in its prisons, according to official sources from both parties.

A truce previously prevailed between Hamas and Israel for a week from November 24 until December 1, 2023, during which a ceasefire took place, a prisoner exchange took place, and very limited humanitarian aid was brought into Gaza, with Qatari-Egyptian-US mediation.

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