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Doha, Qatar

Mossad director David Barnea is expected to arrive in Doha, Qatar on Monday for renewed hostage talks with Hamas brokered by Qatar, Egypt and the United States, according to US and Egyptian officials who spoke with international media.

“Hamas’s demands are still unrealistic. The Israeli delegation will leave for Doha after the political-security cabinet convenes on Sunday to discuss Israel’s position,” the office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a brief statement Saturday night.


Defense Minister Yoav Gallant held a meeting Saturday night that was focused on the efforts to return the hostages held by Hamas in Gaza, the minister’s office announced.

“The meeting was attended by senior officials from the IDF, Mossad, and ISA, as well as representatives of the negotiation team,” Gallant’s office said.

The war cabinet meeting is scheduled for Sunday at 6 pm, followed by a discussion of the expanded political-security cabinet at 7:30 pm, Ynet reported.

“The US government is working extensively with Egypt, Qatar and Israel to bridge the remaining gaps for the deal, discussions are ongoing as we speak,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters on Friday. “Israel has brought back a team to the negotiations and this underscores the urgency.”

Hamas leader Osama Hamdan told the Al Jazeera news outlet on Friday, “Our proposal emphasizes ending the aggression, the enemy’s withdrawal, and the start of relief operations … We proposed guarantor states for the agreement in addition to mediators from Qatar, Egypt, and the United States.

“We are making every possible effort and negotiating with all parties to prevent an attack on Rafah. Anyone who agrees to be an agent for the occupation in the matter of the day after in Gaza must bear the consequences of their choice. The exchange of prisoners must take place, but not at the expense of the core issues, foremost of which is stopping the aggression,” Hamdan said.

The counter proposal offered by Hamas to Qatari and Egyptian mediators and the US included a demand for the release of hundreds of terrorist prisoners incarcerated in Israel, including 100 “heavy” prisoners convicted of multiple murders and who are serving life sentences.

The response was discussed Friday afternoon at a meeting of Israel’s War Cabinet, which also approved plans for the evacuation of uninvolved Gaza civilians ahead of a military operation in the city of Rafah.

The next talks are expected to resume Monday in an effort to close the gaps that remain between the two sides.


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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for, and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.