April 3, 2024 | Flash Brief

Hamas Poised to Respond to Latest Ceasefire Proposal

April 3, 2024 | Flash Brief

Hamas Poised to Respond to Latest Ceasefire Proposal

Latest Developments

Israeli negotiators departed Cairo on April 2, concluding the latest round of talks with Egyptian and Qatari mediators for a deal that would see Hamas free the remaining hostages. Hamas is expected to respond to the Egyptian and Qatari proposal within two days, Haaretz reported on April 3. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu greenlighted the talks on March 29, giving the Israeli team “room to operate” in negotiations. Despite Israel’s relative flexibility, the gaps between the two sides remain “dramatic,” a source involved in the negotiations said.

Last week, Jerusalem accepted a proposal that would have seen Israel pause its counteroffensive in Gaza for six weeks and release approximately 700 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for 40 Israeli hostages. Hamas rejected that proposal on March 26, refusing to compromise on its maximalist demands: a permanent ceasefire, Israel’s complete withdrawal from Gaza, the return of Palestinians displaced from northern Gaza, and a “real” prisoner exchange. Jerusalem has repeatedly made clear that any deal that leaves Hamas intact is unacceptable.

Expert Analysis

“Hamas’s outrageous demands would ensure its survival, which Israel cannot countenance. Since Yahya Sinwar and Mohammad Deif can’t get what they want out of negotiations, their incentive to make a deal is limited and they are likely poised to turn down yet another opportunity for a ceasefire that Gazans desperately need.” —  Enia Krivine, Senior Director of FDD’s Israel Program and National Security Network

“Israel wants to negotiate a hostage release before finishing off Hamas. Hamas wants to survive. The more Hamas leaders believe they will survive without giving up their leverage — hostages — they will hold out. The more they believe they have no other choice, the more seriously they will negotiate.” — Richard Goldberg, FDD Senior Advisor

Hamas Refuses to Compromise

Hamas rejected previous ceasefire proposals in December and January. In February, the White House expressed hope that Hamas had scaled back its demands, but the terrorist group continued to dig in its heels. After Hamas rejected the latest compromise on March 26, Israeli officials claimed that Hamas had sabotaged negotiations by trying to turn the proposed ceasefire into the restoration of the status quo ante. Israeli officials attributed Hamas’s obstinacy to efforts by the group’s Gaza leader, Yahya Sinwar, to keep tensions high during Ramadan, with a view to provoking escalation. They also suggested that Hamas’s position hardened after the United States abstained from a UN Security Council vote on March 25, tacitly allowing the council to pass a resolution that called for a ceasefire without explicitly conditioning it on a hostage release.

130 Hostages Remain in Gaza

Hamas released 81 Israeli hostages during a week-long pause in November in exchange for 240 Palestinian prisoners. Additionally, Hamas released 23 Thai nationals, one 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. On February 12, Israeli special forces rescued two hostages — Fernando Marman, 61, and Louis Har, 70 — from Rafah in southern Gaza. Approximately 130 hostages remain in Gaza, 34 of whom Israel believes are no longer alive.

Israel Quits Doha Hostage Talks After Hamas Rejects Deal,” FDD Flash Brief

Israel Eyes Rafah Offensive, New Hostage Talks,” FDD Flash Brief

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


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