There are strong indications that hostage deal will move ahead, senior Israeli official says | NBC NEWS

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Avi Melamed’s insights quoted in “There are strong indications that hostage deal will move ahead, senior Israeli official says”, an article by Matt Bradley Senior News Reporter for NBC NEWS.

TEL AVIV — While Netanyahu’s government has not yet agreed to the terms of a hostage negotiation offer ironed out last weekend in Paris, there are strong indications that the deal will move ahead, a senior Israeli official told NBC News today.

However, the source said the terms of the deal have not been handed over from the war Cabinet — made up of Netanyahu, Yoav Gallant, his defense minister, and Benny Gantz, a former chief of the general staff — to the full Cabinet.

If approved by the full Cabinet, the Israeli public would then have 24 hours to contest it before the Supreme Court, though in the past the court has typically rejected such challenges.

Yesterday, Netanyahu seemed to pour cold water on the Paris draft, telling cadets at a pre-military academy in a West Bank settlement that Israel would not withdraw its forces from the Gaza Strip or “release thousands of terrorists.”

“None of that will happen,” he said.

Several right-wing ministers are complicating negotiations for the deal including Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben-Gvir, the minister for national security. Both have rejected the idea that hundreds of Palestinians could be exchanged for a handful of Israeli hostages.

Yesterday, Ben-Gvir expressed his opposition, telling his more than 200,000 followers on X, formerly known as Twitter, that the war Cabinet is “beginning to internalize my position and is trying to lower the number of murderous terrorists who will be released.”

“We must continue to press for a deal that strives to achieve the goals of the entire war — the destruction of Hamas, the restoration of security to the residents of the south, and the return of all the abductees home,” he added. “Our soldiers did not fall in vain and it is forbidden to bring about a deal that would endanger Israel’s security.”

In the past, Hamas has insisted that any new hostage release would have to come in exchange for a full cease-fire — a provision the Israelis have completely ruled out.

Hamas is also under substantial political pressure, even as it parries the most destructive Israeli attack in its nearly 40 year existence, according to Avi Melamed, a former Israeli intelligence official who focused on Arab affairs.

The militant group now has to “try to somehow come up with something, some sort of an achievement, that will help Hamas to re-establish its reputation within the Arab world,” he said.

“The Palestinians are looking at the situation in the Gaza Strip, and they are turning to Hamas and saying, ‘What have you done? What exactly have you accomplished? What kind of an achievement can you show us?’”

Melamed said Hamas was criticized for a deal it made with Israel in November that freed 110 hostages in return for 240 Palestinians held in Israeli jails.

The proposed Paris deal would see three Palestinian prisoners returned for each hostage released from Gaza and a longer pause in hostilities of up to 60 days.

The November deal “was kind of like backfiring on Hamas,” Melamed said. “People in the Arab world, particularly the Palestinians, said to Hamas ‘you did all of this mess to get 300 Palestinian women and children who in any case would have been released sometime soon. What did you gain?’”

Avi Melamed’s insights quoted in “There are strong indications that hostage deal will move ahead, senior Israeli official says”, an article by Matt Bradley Senior News Reporter for NBC NEWS.

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Avi Melamed
Avi Melamed
Avi Melamed is an expert on current affairs in the Arab & Muslim World and their impact on Israel & the Middle East. A former Israeli Intelligence Official & Senior Official on Arab Affairs, Fluent in Arabic, English, and Hebrew, he has held high-risk Government, Senior Advisory, Intelligence & Counter-Terrorist intelligence positions in Arab cities & communities - often in very sensitive times - on behalf of Israeli Government agencies. He is the Founder & CEO of Inside the Middle East | Intelligence Perspectives - an apolitical non-partisan curriculum using intelligence methodology to examine the Middle East. As an Author, Educator, Expert, and Strategic Intelligence Analyst, Avi provides Intelligence Analysis, Briefings, and Geopolitical Tours to diplomats, Israeli and foreign policymakers, global media outlets, and a wide variety of international businesses, organizations, and private clients on a range of Israel and Middle East Affairs.

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