Progress is seen in the US-Israeli hostage release deal, leading to a temporary halt in the ongoing war.

U.S. negotiators are reportedly making significant headway in their efforts to secure a potential agreement between Israel and Hamas. According to two senior administration officials who spoke on condition of anonymity, the deal would involve Israel pausing its military operations in Gaza for a period of two months. In exchange, over 100 hostages captured during the October 7 attack on Israel would be released.

The negotiations, which are still ongoing, would take place in two phases. The first phase aims to bring about a cessation of fighting to facilitate the release of remaining women, elderly individuals, and wounded hostages held by Hamas. While this proposed agreement would not mark the end of the conflict, U.S. officials are optimistic that it could serve as a significant step towards a lasting resolution.

The New York Times was the first to report on the progress made towards this potential deal, highlighting that it hinges upon the release of the remaining hostages in exchange for a pause in the fighting.

As part of these efforts, William Burns, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), is heading to France for high-level talks. This comes after Brett McGurk, a senior advisor to the White House, visited the Middle East earlier in the week to discuss the hostage situation. If Burns sees positive developments during his discussions in France, President Joe Biden may dispatch McGurk back to the region swiftly to finalize the agreement. Additionally, McGurk’s talks this week were also laying the groundwork for Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s potential fifth trip to the Middle East since the Israel-Hamas conflict began in October.

It is important to note that neither the White House nor the CIA have publicly confirmed Burns’ meeting in France, and administration officials remain cautious about the possibility of swiftly brokering a deal.

Recognizing the mounting death toll among Palestinians and the widespread suffering in Gaza, President Biden and his team are acutely aware that some members of their Democratic base are becoming increasingly frustrated. These individuals are urging the administration to exert more pressure on Israel to bring an end to the war. In Michigan, Democratic lawmakers have even cautioned the White House that Biden’s handling of the Israel-Hamas conflict could impact his support within the state’s significant Arab American community, potentially influencing the outcome of the 2024 election.

Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has consistently vowed to continue the offensive until Hamas is decisively defeated. However, Netanyahu has been facing mounting pressure from the families of the hostages, who are demanding a deal to secure the release of their loved ones.

The October 7 attack resulted in the deaths of approximately 1,200 individuals in Israel, with Hamas and other militant groups capturing around 250 people. In November, a temporary ceasefire allowed for the release of around 100 hostages in exchange for Palestinians imprisoned by Israel. However, approximately 130 hostages remain captive, with some fatalities confirmed.

Hamas has previously stated that it will only release more captives if the war ends and thousands of Palestinian prisoners are freed.

U.S. negotiators are reportedly making progress on a potential agreement between Israel and Hamas. The deal would involve Israel pausing military operations in Gaza for two months in exchange for the release of over 100 hostages captured in an October attack. The agreement would be implemented in two phases, with the first phase aimed at releasing remaining women, elderly, and wounded hostages. While the deal would not end the war, it is seen as a step towards a lasting resolution. The White House and CIA have not confirmed the negotiations publicly, and the Biden administration is under pressure to address the Palestinian death toll and suffering in Gaza. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to continue the offensive until Hamas is completely defeated.

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