Only ‘minor’ obstacles blocking Israel-Hamas deal on hostages: Qatar PM – POLITICO

The deal to release hostages kidnapped by Hamas during its terrorist attack on Israel now only depends on “minor” practical issues, the Qatari prime minister said on Sunday in Doha. 

His comments came after the White House denied that an agreement had been reached, following a report by the Washington Post that Hamas was close to agreeing to free 50 hostages in exchange for a five-day pause in fighting from Israel. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also denied that a deal had been reached.

“The challenges facing the agreement are just practical and logistical,” Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman al-Thani told a press conference in Doha, alongside the EU’s foreign affairs chief, Josep Borrell. 

Negotiations toward an agreement have seen “ups and downs from time to time throughout the last few weeks,” he said. “I’m now more confident that we are close enough to reach a deal that can bring the people safely back to their home,” he added.

 The Biden administration said Washington was working “hard” to get a deal between Israel and Hamas. 

Israel’s Netanyahu has repeatedly said that he will not agree to a cease-fire until all the hostages have been released.

Qatar, which hosts a Hamas political office and has donated millions of dollars in financial aid to Gaza, was involved in the mediation that led to the release of four hostages in October, including an American woman and her daughter, and two Israeli women.

“I appreciate a lot the constructive role Qatar is playing … in fostering peace and stability,” Borrell said at the press conference, praising Qatar’s approach as “a key mediator.”

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