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New truce deal would see 35 Israelis released for 35 days of ‘peace’, media report claims

February 1, 2024 at 9:26 am

Hamas hands over 11 Israeli hostages to the International Committee of the Red Cross in Gaza City, Gaza on November 27, 2023. [Stringer – Anadolu Agency]

Israel’s Channel 12 reported yesterday that Mossad Director David Barnea revealed a “document of principles” to the Israeli War Cabinet for a possible prisoner exchange deal with Hamas, which includes the release of 35 Israeli prisoners of war held in the Gaza Strip in the first phase, in exchange for a 35-day truce.

The channel said that the deal “includes the release of 35 kidnapped survivors, including women, the wounded, and the elderly, in exchange for a truce lasting 35 days, meaning one day of truce for each captive.”

“It is possible after that to extend the truce for an additional week, in order to hold negotiations on the possibility of completing the second phase of the deal, which includes the release of the youth, and all those whom Hamas describes as soldiers,” it added.

The channel noted that “the essence of the dispute on the Israeli side is not necessarily the number of security prisoners [Palestinian prisoners] that Israel will be forced to release from prisons, but rather their quality.”

READ: US congressman says there are no innocent children, civilians in Gaza

It pointed out that the deal “includes the release of a large number of Palestinian prisoners who were convicted by Tel Aviv of involvement in attacks that resulted in the killing of Israelis,” adding that the release of these Palestinian prisoners “will be hard for the public and politicians to digest.”

“The discussion in Israel is not only concerned with the issue of the number of prisoners who would be released, but which prisoners would be released. This is a very important matter and will affect its acceptance of the deal.”

Channel 12 confirmed that, so far, there is no agreement on the number of Palestinian prisoners who will be released.

Hamas has now received the main terms of the deal, the TV station reported, adding that Israel is awaiting a response from the Palestinian resistance faction.

On Tuesday, the head of the Hamas Political Bureau, Ismail Haniyeh, announced that the movement had a ceasefire proposal put forward after talks in Paris and would study it.

Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth reported yesterday that Hamas “insists that the next deal include three known Palestinian prisoners, only one of whom is a member of the movement.”

READ: Hamas rejects Israel offer to release captives in exchange for 2-month truce

The newspaper pointed out that in the list that Hamas is expected to present, “there are big names capable of changing the face of the Palestinian Authority, including Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti, who, according to the latest opinion poll conducted in the West Bank, is the preferred candidate to head the Authority after Abu Mazen [Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas].”

Barghouti, who was  detained by Israel in 2002, is serving five life sentences and 40 years in prison on charges of planning to carry out operations in which five Israelis were killed and others were injured.

“The second name that Hamas insists on is Ahmed Saadat, secretary-general of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, who planned to assassinate Minister Rehavam Ze’evi in 2001,” the newspaper added. According to the newspaper, Israel refused to release Saadat as part of the Shalit prisoner exchange deal in 2011.

“Saadat, like Barghouti, is also considered an important popular figure in Palestinian society,” it said.

The third known figure was named as “Abdullah Barghouti, a member of Hamas, and one of the leaders of the organisation’s military wing in the West Bank.” Abdullah Barghouti is currently serving a life sentence of 67 years in prison, which is an “unprecedented” sentence in Israel, according to the newspaper.

On Sunday, a meeting was held in the French capital, Paris, with the participation of Israel, the US, Egypt and Qatar, to discuss a deal for a prisoner exchange and stopping the war in Gaza, to take place in three stages, according to Palestinian and American sources.

READ: Haniyeh says Hamas has received ceasefire proposal