March 26, 2024 | Flash Brief

Israel Quits Doha Hostage Talks After Hamas Rejects Deal

March 26, 2024 | Flash Brief

Israel Quits Doha Hostage Talks After Hamas Rejects Deal

Latest Developments

Israel on March 26 withdrew its negotiators from Qatar-hosted talks on a potential Gaza truce after Hamas rejected a U.S.-proposed compromise. Mossad director David Barnea, who has been leading diplomatic efforts to recover 40 of the remaining 130 hostages seized by Hamas on October 7, ordered his working team based in Doha to return to Israel. No date was given for when negotiations might resume.

Israeli officials said Hamas had sabotaged the process by trying to turn the proposed ceasefire into the restoration of the status quo ante. The Palestinian terrorist group wants Israel to commit to ending the war and withdraw all forces, enabling the return of Gazans displaced from the north of the territory and the beginning of reconstruction. CIA director William Burns, who came to Doha to oversee the negotiations mediated by Qatar and Egypt, had persuaded Israel to agree in principle to agree to a “bridging proposal”: the return of some northern Gazans and the release of around 20 jailed Palestinian terrorists for every hostage freed — a doubling of the ratio previously sought by Barnea’s team.

Israeli officials attributed Hamas’s obstinacy to efforts by its Gaza leader, Yahya Sinwar, to keep tensions at a high pitch through Ramadan, with a view to provoking escalation. They also suggested that Hamas’s position had been hardened by the U.S. abstention that allowed the UN Security Council to pass a resolution on March 25 that called for a ceasefire without explicitly conditioning it on a hostage release.

Expert Analysis

“The hopes of 40 families to be united with their loved ones after almost half a year of Gaza captivity, among them young women who may have faced the worst kinds of Hamas sexual abuse, appear to have been dashed again. This will likely serve to galvanize Israel’s offensive, including a sweep against the last Hamas bastion in Rafah — the opposite of what the Biden administration has been working for. The blame rests on Hamas, but the Biden administration’s abstention on a recently passed UN Security Council resolution — which didn’t condemn Hamas, didn’t acknowledge the October 7 attacks, and appeared to disconnect the call for a ceasefire from the return of hostages — emboldened Hamas rejectionism and weakened Israeli and American leverage.” — Mark Dubowitz, FDD CEO

“The actions of the United States against Israel have emboldened Hamas and its allies in the Gaza Strip. Washington has provided the terrorist group with every reason to change the terms of a potential ceasefire agreement, prolong the war, and wait for Israel to become increasingly isolated on the global stage until it is forced to abandon its goal of removing Hamas from power.” Joe Truzman, Senior Research Analyst at FDD’s Long War Journal

Bring them home . . . or not — Biden just sold out Israeli hostages at the United Nations,” by Richard Goldberg

Mossad, CIA Chiefs Meet About Stalled Hostage Talks,” FDD Flash Brief

Hostage Talks Continue in Qatar as Israel Prepares to Fight in Rafah,” FDD Flash Brief

Israel Rescues Two Hostages From Gaza,” FDD Flash Brief


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