Middle East

Israel not sending delegation to Cairo for Gaza talks, Israeli official says

By Amir Tal and Richard Allen Greene, CNN

CNN  —  Israel is not sending a delegation to Cairo for talks on a deal for a ceasefire and release of hostages from Gaza, an Israeli official told CNN Sunday.

The official said the reason was that Hamas had not responded to two Israeli demands: a list of hostages specifying which are alive and which are dead; and confirmation of the ratio of Palestinian prisoners to be released from Israeli prisons in exchange for hostages.

The official asked not to be named as they discussed closed-door diplomatic maneuvers.

A Hamas delegation arrived in Cairo on Sunday, for the talks that are hoped to bring a halt to the fighting.

The decision not to send an Israeli delegation was made by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in coordination with Mossad director David Barnea – who has been a key Israeli negotiator – after Barnea received a message that Hamas had not responded to the conditions, the Israeli official said.

A high-ranking Hamas official did not immediately respond to a CNN question about whether the militant group had responded to Israel’s conditions.

TEL AVIV, ISRAEL - JANUARY 18: Protesters hold signs and photos of hostages as they are marching during a protest calling for a hostage deal on January 18, 2024 in Tel Aviv, Israel. More than 100 Israeli hostages, who were taken captive by Palestinian militants during the Oct. 7 attacks, remain in captivity in Gaza, according to Israeli authorities. Earlier this week, a deal was struck to allow medicine to be brought to the hostages, in exchange for Israel allowing more humanitarian aid to be permitted into Gaza. (Photo by Amir Levy/Getty Images)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu outlined the terms in a speech on Thursday, saying: “I demand to know in advance the names of all the hostages who will be included in the outline. I have yet to receive an answer on the two questions and it is too early to say, in spite of our willingness, if we will achieve an outline for an additional release in the coming days.”

The Israeli decision that no delegation will go to Cairo comes a day after a senior Biden Administration official told reporters that Israel had “basically accepted” a proposal for a six-week ceasefire.

On Sunday a Hamas source said there were at least three sticking points remaining before the group would agree to a deal.

They are a permanent ceasefire; withdrawal of what the source called “occupation forces” – that is, Israeli troops – from the Gaza Strip; and the return of displaced people from the south to the north.

Another diplomatic source played down the prospects of an imminent deal, saying progress was slow and it was unlikely there would be a breakthrough within the next 48 hours.

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