The United States sees signs of progress in the hostage release agreement and a temporary halt to the war between Israel and Hamas

Washington (AFP) – American negotiators are making progress on a potential agreement under which Israel would halt its military operations against Hamas in Gaza for two months in exchange for the release of more than 100 hostages captured in the Gaza Strip. October 7 attack on IsraelAccording to two senior administration officials.

The emerging terms of the yet-to-be-concluded deal will take place in two stages, the officials, who requested anonymity to discuss the sensitive negotiations, said on Saturday.

In the first phase, the fighting will stop to allow the release of the remaining women, elderly and wounded Hamas hostages.

Israel and Hamas will then aim to work out details within the first 30 days of the truce for the second phase in which Israeli soldiers and civilians will be released. The emerging agreement also calls on Israel to allow more humanitarian aid into Gaza.

While the proposed agreement would not end the war, US officials hope that such an agreement will lay the foundation for a lasting solution to the conflict.

The New York Times first reported on Saturday that progress had been made toward reaching an agreement to stop the fighting in exchange for the release of the remaining hostages.

CIA Director Bill Burns is expected to discuss it He outlined the features of the emerging agreement when he meets on Sunday in France with David Barnea, head of the Israeli intelligence agency (Mossad), Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdul Rahman Al Thani, and Egyptian intelligence chief Abbas Kamel for talks centered around hostage negotiations, according to the Times website. “Off Israel.” Three people with knowledge of the scheduled meeting were not authorized to comment publicly.

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president Joe Biden Friday Talk on the phone With Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. Calls with both leaders focused on the hostage situation.

The White House said in a statement about Biden's call with the Qatari leader: “The two leaders emphasized that the hostage deal is essential to achieving a long-term humanitarian truce in the fighting and ensuring that additional life-saving humanitarian aid reaches civilians in need throughout Gaza.” “They emphasized the seriousness of the situation, and welcomed the close cooperation between their teams to enhance recent discussions.”

Burns is heading to France for high-level talks after Brett McGurk, a senior White House adviser, traveled to the Middle East this week for talks on the hostage situation.

If Burns sees progress in his talks in France, Biden may send McGurk to the Middle East quickly to try to complete the agreement. During his talks this week, McGurk was laying the groundwork for another trip to the region by Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, who next week may make his fifth trip to the Middle East since the war between Israel and Hamas began in October.

The White House and CIA have not publicly confirmed Burns' meeting in France, and administration officials have expressed caution that an agreement could be reached quickly.

“We should not anticipate any imminent developments,” National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters on Friday.

Biden and his aides are keenly aware that the rising Palestinian death toll and widespread suffering in Gaza are Which led to the frustration of some in his Democratic base, Those who want to see him exert more pressure on Israel to end the war. Michigan Democrats have warned the White House that Biden's handling of the conflict between Israel and Hamas could cost him enough support within the big state. Arab American community To influence the outcome of the 2024 elections in a state that could be decisive in his winning a second term.

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu He has repeatedly pledged to continue the attack until complete victory over Hamas is achieved.

He confronted Netanyahu Increasing pressures From the families of many hostages who are demanding a deal to release their loved ones.

The October 7 attack killed about 1,200 people in Israel, and Hamas and other militants kidnapped about 250 people.

About 100 hostages were released under a week-long ceasefire in November in exchange for the release of Palestinians imprisoned by Israel. About 130 of them remain detained, but a number of them have since been confirmed dead.

Hamas said earlier that it would not release more prisoners except in exchange for ending the war and releasing thousands of Palestinian prisoners.

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Miller reported from Columbia, South Carolina. AP Diplomatic Writer Matthew Lee contributed to this report.

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