February 23, 2024 | Flash Brief

Israel Sends Negotiators to Hostage Talks in Paris

February 23, 2024 | Flash Brief

Israel Sends Negotiators to Hostage Talks in Paris

Latest Developments

Israeli negotiators arrived in Paris on February 23 to advance a deal with Hamas to free hostages held in Gaza. Egypt, Qatar, and the United States participated in this latest round of diplomacy, two weeks after Hamas submitted a proposal demanding that Israel permanently end its counteroffensive in Gaza and release thousands of Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the 134 remaining hostages, of which Israel believes at least 30 are dead.

Jerusalem has repeatedly made clear that any deal that leaves Hamas intact would be unacceptable. “Surrendering to Hamas’ delusional demands that we heard now not only won’t lead to freeing the captives, it will just invite another massacre,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on February 7.

Expert Analysis

“Israel’s position hasn’t changed. Jerusalem will not agree to any deal that ends its campaign to remove Hamas from control in Gaza. But it will accept a multi-week pause that brings hostages home.” — Richard Goldberg, FDD Senior Advisor

“The hostages’ months-long captivity in Gaza is a permanent national trauma for Israel. But exchanging violent Palestinian terrorists for innocent Israeli hostages further incentivizes hostage-taking. Israel must balance the lives of the 134 hostages and the security of its 9 million citizens.” — David May, FDD Research Manager and Senior Research Analyst

White House Coordinator in Israel

White House Middle East Coordinator Brett McGurk traveled to Israel on February 22, where he met with Prime Minister Netanyahu, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, and other senior Israeli officials. McGurk reportedly told the Israelis that Hamas may be willing to adjust its previous demands. Gallant said afterward that Israel “will expand the authority given to our hostage negotiators” but that the military will continue preparing for “intense ground operations.”

Previous Hostage Deals

Hamas released 81 Israeli hostages during a week-long pause in November. Israel released 240 Palestinian prisoners or detainees in return. Additionally, Hamas released 23 Thai nationalsone Filipino, and three Israeli-Russian dual citizens under separate arrangements with Bangkok, Manila, and Moscow. The pause collapsed on December 1, when Hamas refused to provide a list of the remaining women and children in captivity and resumed launching rockets at Israel.

Israel reportedly proposed a new seven-day pause on December 20 in exchange for the release of 40 hostages, including the remaining women, children, and elderly men. Hamas rejected the offer, allegedly telling Egyptian mediators that Israel had to permanently cease its counteroffensive before Hamas would discuss any deal. Jerusalem offered Hamas a two-month pause on January 22, but the proposal did not require Israel to permanently end its counteroffensive. Egyptian mediators delivered another proposal to Hamas on January 30 before the recent impasse set in.

Israel, Hamas Weigh Three-Stage Deal for Return of Hostages,” FDD Flash Brief

Israel: Discussion of Hostage Crisis ‘Constructive,’ But ‘Significant Gaps’ Remain,” FDD Flash Brief

Israel Offers Two-Month Pause in Fighting in Exchange for Hostages,” FDD Flash Brief

Hamas Rejects Israel’s Offer for Second Humanitarian Pause,” FDD Flash Brief


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