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Gaza peace talks yet to make headway as Israel stick to its conditions

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Shillong, March 24: The indirect mediatory talks between Israel and Hamas at Doha, Qatar are yet to make headway as the Israeli side stood firm on its terms for a ceasefire deal despite efforts of the US, sources said.

The US is pushing for an immediate ceasefire and Secretary of State Antony Blinken was in the Middle East and Israel on Thursday and Friday to facilitate negotiations between the two sides.

Sources in the Israeli Defense Ministry told IANS that Israel would stick to its terms, which the war cabinet had agreed upon.

Hamas, according to sources, is seeking the release of 30 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for each Israeli woman hostage while Israel said it can release a maximum of five prisoners for each woman hostage. Israel is also adamant that it won’t release Palestinians serving jail terms for grave offences including murder.

According to sources, Israel has told the mediators including Qatar Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani and Egyptian Intelligence head Major General Abbas Kamel that it is in the winning position militarily and that only four battalions of Hamas are left to be defeated on the war front.

The Israeli side has said that it has already agreed on several demands and now, the negotiations should be carried forward on its terms.

Israel has agreed to more aid flow into Gaza as well as rehabilitation of 2000 displaced Palestinian families.

Mossad chief David Barnea, who is heading the Israeli delegation for peace talks, has communicated to CIA head William Burns that Israel would agree to a six-week temporary ceasefire on its terms.

Israel, according to sources, is also adamant that the Israeli hostages be released in two lots instead of three lots which Hamas has been insisting on.

Hamas had said that it would release women, aged, ailing hostages in the first lot while all the women Israeli soldiers in custody in the second lot along with civilian men. The militant outfit, according to sources, has told the mediators that in the third lot, all Israeli male soldiers in custody would be released.

However, Israel wants all the civilian men and soldiers to be released in the second lot itself. (IANS)

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