Qatar’s prime minister welcomed as “positive” a response by Palestinian group Hamas to a framework deal for a possible new cease-fire in the Gaza Strip and hostage swap with Israel.
“We received Hamas’ response to the framework agreement,” Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani told a joint press conference in Doha with visiting US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who is touring the region to push for a cease-fire. “The Hamas response contains notes, but is generally positive,” he added.
The Qatari premier cited progress in the negotiations, but declined to provide further details. “We seek to reach an agreement as soon as possible in cooperation with our partners in Cairo and Washington,” he said. “The war in Gaza must end, and we do not want an escalation in the region or a threat to international navigation.”
The war began after the Oct. 7 cross-border offensive by Hamas, in which some 1,200 people were killed, and around 240 taken as hostages.
About half of the hostages were released during a weeklong November cease-fire in exchange for 240 Palestinian prisoners.
Israel’s attacks since then have killed more than 27,000 Palestinians, and about 85% of Gaza’s population of 2.3 million has been displaced, according to the UN.
Last week, head of Hamas political bureau Ismail Haniyeh confirmed receiving a proposal, thrashed out at a meeting in Paris in late January, to end the fighting in the blockaded Palestinian enclave.__The Nation