Israel and Hamas set to seal hostage deal?

The negotiations between Israel and the radical Islamic organisation Hamas are apparently making progress. According to the British Foreign Office, Israel has made an offer of a 40-day ceasefire in return for the release of Israeli hostages. Commentators discuss whether the impending offensive in Rafah can still be prevented.

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taz, die tageszeitung (DE) /

The solution can only be political

The latest developments underline the enormous pressure on both sides, Middle East correspondent Karim El-Gawhary writes in the taz:

“Hamas wants to prevent an Israeli offensive in Rafah at all costs. And Netanyahu is under pressure on several fronts. ... There is growing international pressure - including from his most important ally the US - for him to finally agree to a ceasefire in exchange for the hostages. And underlying this is the fear of a regional conflagration. The fact that serious talks are now taking place is also a sign that the situation has shifted in the last six months: to the detriment of a military solution. Instead, there is a growing realisation that the Palestinian issue needs a political solution.”

De Standaard (BE) /

Judicial pressure could work

The Israeli prime minister could be worried that the International Criminal Court will issue an arrest warrant, De Standaard surmises:

“Netanyahu would prefer not to see Israeli officials put on par with the likes of Vladimir Putin, the deposed Sudanese dictator Omar al-Bashir or Hamas terror leaders. This is fueling optimism that the talks could be successful. For the million refugees in Rafah - the last stretch of Gaza through which tanks have not yet thundered - but also for the hostages, this is a matter of life and death.”