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Negotiations on a deal between Israel and Hamas appear to be on the right track, officials say

Ongoing negotiations to reach a ceasefire agreement to stop fighting between Hamas and Israel in Gaza until Ramadan appear to still be on track, even after more than 100 Palestinians were killed on Thursday (29 ) as they tried to access food in Gaza City, according to officials familiar with the discussions.

US officials said on Friday that there is no indication that the discussions have been significantly hampered, but much depends on an expected response from Hamas to what was discussed in Paris and Doha last week among the other countries involved. : Qatar, Egypt, Israel and the USA. On Thursday, a Hamas official warned that negotiations could be affected.

A CNN contacted several Hamas officials about the possible deal but received no response.

In the immediate aftermath of the deaths of dozens of Palestinian civilians in Gaza on Thursday, US officials said the chaotic scenes injected greater urgency into hostage and ceasefire talks.

On Friday afternoon, President Joe Biden called for an “immediate ceasefire.”

“We are trying to reach an agreement between Israel and Hamas on the return of the hostages and an immediate ceasefire in Gaza for at least the next six weeks and to allow for increased aid to the Gaza Strip,” Biden said during a meeting with Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni.

A senior administration official said Friday that the U.S. is still racing to try to reach a deal by Ramadan — now just a week away — which is when Israel warned its forces would expand their military operations in Rafah in the absence of agreement.

Biden had said earlier in the week that he hoped there would be a ceasefire in Gaza by Monday, but he gave a mixed assessment of that possibility on Friday, saying: “It looks like we're still – we're not there yet. I think we'll get there, but it's not there yet. And it may not get there now.” Asked whether a ceasefire agreement would ever be reached, he told reporters he was “still hoping for that. It’s not over until it’s over.”

The president said on Thursday that deaths at the aid site could hamper ceasefire negotiations.

Asked if he feared that the deaths could complicate negotiations, Biden replied: “Oh, I know it will.”

Biden spoke Thursday with the leaders of Qatar and Egypt — countries that play central mediation roles in the negotiations.

Technical teams have been working on key components of a possible deal this week in Doha, officials familiar with the negotiations said. On Tuesday (27), Qatari spokesman Majed al-Ansari said that disagreements persisted over “numbers, proportions and troop movements [das Forças de Defesa de Israel]”.

It is believed that Hamas will demand a greater proportion of Palestinian prisoners to be released by Israel if Hamas wants to release female IDF soldier hostages as demanded by Israel.

The Foreign Relations analyst at CNN Barak Ravid, reported for Axios on Friday that as part of Hamas' response, Israel is awaiting a list of hostages who are alive and more details about the number of Palestinian prisoners it wants to release, before engaging in further negotiations.

“We are hopeful that the areas of disagreement between the two sides can be overcome and that we can achieve at least a temporary cessation of hostilities to lead to a [cessar-fogo] permanent,” Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri said on Friday, warning that a failure to reach an agreement between Israel and Hamas before Ramadan will aggravate the Arab and Muslim world.

“Everyone recognized the importance of us succeeding in this before the start of Ramadan,” he said at the Antalya Diplomacy Forum in Turkey.

“If this conflict continues until Ramadan, I think it will have a very terrible consequence as emotions will become even more inflamed,” he added.

Those involved in the discussions said a deal would likely be implemented in multiple phases and that, once an initial agreement is reached, it could lead to a truce lasting up to six weeks, with the release of a group of Israeli hostages – including women, children, and sick hostages – in exchange for a smaller number of elderly Palestinian prisoners than Hamas had initially requested.

During a truce, negotiations would take place on more sensitive topics, such as the release of Israeli soldiers being held hostage, Palestinian prisoners serving longer sentences, the withdrawal of IDF forces and the permanent end of the war along with the so-called “day after”.

Source: CNN Brasil

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