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A White House spokesman said on Tuesday that the United States Middle East envoy Brett McGurk was in the region — for the second time in a week — to discuss the release of hostages and Washington’s support for a longer “humanitarian pause”.
Two Egyptian security sources said that there was work underway to convince Hamas to accept a one-month truce followed by a permanent ceasefire. Hamas is requesting guarantees for the second phase of the deal to agree to the initial truce, but details of these guarantees are not provided.
Asked about the negotiations, senior Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri said Monday that the organisation was open to discussing ideas but that no deal was yet in place.
“We are open to all initiatives and proposals, but any agreement must be based on ending the aggression and the occupation’s complete pullout from Gaza Strip,” said Abu Zuhri.
One offer by Israel is to end the war if Hamas removes six senior leaders from Gaza, said a seventh source, a senior Hamas official. However, Hamas “absolutely” rejected the proposal, he said.
The source said the list included the masterminds of Hamas’ October 7 attacks on Israel, Yahya Sinwar and Mohamed al-Deif, who are Israel’s top targets to kill or capture in the war and are thought to be hiding deep within Hamas’ extensive network of tunnels beneath Gaza.
Reuters was not immediately able to confirm this proposal with Israeli sources. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office declined a request for comment about the proposal or the broader negotiations. According to recordings leaked to Israel’s N12 news network, Netanyahu said such a “surrender and exile” scenario was being discussed in early January.