Israeli war cabinet agrees to resume hostage negotiations with Hamas

The Israeli war cabinet announced early Thursday that it will resume negotiations with Hamas for the return of the hostages taken from in Gaza during the attack by the extremist group on Oct. 7, EFE reported.

The Cabinet said in a statement that it had ordered the negotiating team to resume its work, which was once again halted on May 10, following an attempt to reach an agreement in Cairo that Israel rejected.

The decision comes after Egypt threatened Wednesday to withdraw as a mediator in the conflict between Israel and Hamas over accusations of mismanagement of the last round of negotiations, which led to its failure, according to The Times of Israel newspaper.

“Attempts to cast doubt and offend Egypt’s mediation efforts… will only lead to further complications of the situation in Gaza and the entire region and may push Egypt to completely withdraw from its mediation in the current conflict,” Diaa Rashwan, head of Egypt’s State Information Service, said in a statement published on social media.

The Cabinet thus opened up for a new round of negotiations, otherwise paralyzed from May 10, when both Israel and Hamas withdrew their delegations from Cairo after failing to reach an agreement on the proposal for a ceasefire and exchange of hostages for prisoners put forward by the Islamist organization and the mediators.

Of the 253 people taken hostage on Oct. 7, 124 remain in the enclave – 40 of them killed according to Israel, while Hamas claims the number is more than 70.

Since the war began, Israel and Hamas have only reached a one-week truce agreement in late November, which allowed 105 hostages to be released in exchange for 240 Palestinian prisoners.

In addition, four hostages were released by Hamas in October; three were rescued by the army – two of them a few weeks ago in a successful operation in Rafah – while the bodies of 17 hostages have been recovered, three of whom were mistakenly killed by Israeli troops.

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