Hamas and Qatar officials in Cairo for talks on Gaza ceasefire deal, Doha mulls future of militant group’s office

Hamas and Qatar officials in Cairo for talks on Gaza ceasefire deal, Doha mulls future of militant group’s office

Teams from the Palestinian militant group Hamas and mediator Qatar arrived in Cairo on Saturday for further talks on a ceasefire and hostage release deal with Israel, sources at the airport in the Egyptian capital said.

Both teams arrived aboard a flight from Qatar, they added.

Egypt’s state-affiliated television al-Qahera News also reported the arrival of a Hamas delegation in Cairo and cited “significant progress” in negotiations to reach the deal.

The broadcaster, citing what it termed as a high-level source, said the Egyptian security team engaged in the negotiations had reached a “consensus formula” on several contentious issues. No specific details were given.

Israel has been bombarding the Gaza Strip from the ground and air since Hamas militants launched an unprecedented attack on Israel in October of last year that left about 1,200 people dead.



Humanitarian aid workers delivering food killed in Gaza in ‘unintentional’ air strike

Humanitarian aid workers delivering food killed in Gaza in ‘unintentional’ air strike

As part of the latest mediation efforts, Hamas, which abducted some 250 people from Israel on October 7, was presented with a proposal for a ceasefire in return for the release of hostages.

More than 100 hostages were released during a six-day truce in November. It is unclear how many of those remaining in captivity are still alive.

More than 34,000 Palestinians have been killed in Israel’s ensuing military onslaught on the Gaza Strip, say health officials in the Hamas-ruled enclave.

Months of mediation by Egypt, Qatar and the United States in indirect negotiations between Israel and Hamas have yet to result in a breakthrough. A diplomatic push to clinch a deal has picked momentum over the past few days.

Smoke billows during an Israeli strike on the Lebanese village of Tayr Harfa amid ongoing cross-border tensions as fighting continues between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Photo: AFP

Meanwhile, Qatar could close the political office of Hamas as part of a broader review of its role as a mediator in the war between Israel and the militant group, according to an official familiar with the Qatari government’s reassessment.

The Gulf state was weighing whether to allow Hamas to continue operating the political office, and the broader review includes considering whether to continue mediating in the seven-month conflict, the official said.

Qatar said last month it was re-evaluating its role as mediator in indirect talks between Israel and Hamas, citing concerns that its efforts were being undermined by politicians seeking to score points.

“If Qatar isn’t going to be mediating, they won’t see a point in keeping the political office. So that is a part of the reassessment,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Pro-Palestinian protesters gather outside of New York University buildings amid ongoing demonstrations over Israel’s war in Gaza. Photo: Getty Images via AFP

The official did not know if Hamas would be asked to leave Doha if the Qatari government did decide to close the group’s office. However, the official did say Qatar’s own review of its role would be influenced by how Israel and Hamas act during the ongoing negotiations.

In a report on Friday, The Washington Post cited an unnamed US official as saying Washington had told Doha to expel Hamas if the group continues to reject a ceasefire deal with Israel.

Qatar has hosted Hamas’ political leaders since 2012 as part of an agreement with the US.



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