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Isreal, Hamas hold peace talks in Qatar



Israeli officials headed on Monday to Qatar, where the ruling emir separately met the chief of Hamas, as the enemies in the Gaza war closed in on a ceasefire-and-hostage deal that Washington says is now within reach.

Earlier, it was hinted that an Israeli working delegation, made up of staff from the military and the Mossad spy agency, had flown to Qatar, tasked with creating an operational centre to support negotiations there. Its mission would include vetting proposed Palestinian militants that Hamas wants freed as part of a hostage release deal, the source said.

The presence of both sides for so-called proximity talks – meeting mediators separately while in the same city – suggested negotiations were further along than at any time since a big push at the start of February, when Israel rejected a Hamas counter-offer for a four-and-a-half-month truce.

The talks involve negotiations between Israeli officials and Hamas, mediated by Qatar, with both sides holding firm to their positions on the terms of a truce.

Israel insists on a temporary pause in fighting to secure the release of hostages, while Hamas demands an agreement leading to a permanent end to the war.

It would be recalled that there is pressure on Israel from the United States to agree to a truce to prevent a potential assault on Rafah, a city in the Gaza Strip.


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