The remaining challenges to reaching an Israel-Hamas hostage deal are “very minor,” primarily revolving around “practical and logistical” issues, according to statements made by Qatar’s Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani on 18 November.
“I think that you know I’m now more confident that we are close enough to reach a deal that can bring the people safely back to their homes,” Al Thani said at a joint press conference with European Union (EU) Foreign Policy Head Josep Borrell.
Borrell reaffirmed the EU’s support for Israel but criticised its disproportionate military response to the Hamas surprise attack on 7 October.
“One horror does not justify another horror. And the pain that you inflict on children of others […] will not compensate the pain your children have been suffering,” Borrell remarked.
The press conference came a day after a report in the Washington Post claimed that a US-brokered deal for the release of 50 hostages taken by Hamas – including dozens of women and children – had been agreed upon, citing sources familiar with the deal.
In exchange for the hostages, a five-day pause in fighting was agreed upon, according to the Washington Post.
White House National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson denied the deal’s conclusion.
“We have not reached a deal yet, but we continue to work hard to get to a deal,” Watson posted on X.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also denied reports that a hostage deal is imminent.
Despite the denials by both the United States and Israel, Al Thani highlighted ongoing efforts and progress in communication from Qatar with representatives from Israel and Hamas – expressing signs of “good progress” in reaching an agreement.
Qatar, where a Hamas political bureau is located, collaborated with Egypt in securing the release of four captives from Hamas before Israel escalated its bombardment of Gaza, leading to a disruption in the ongoing talks.
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