Israeli PM hopeful of finalizing hostage deal "soon"-Xinhua

Israeli PM hopeful of finalizing hostage deal "soon"

Source: Xinhua

Editor: huaxia

2023-11-21 22:48:00

JERUSALEM, Nov. 21 (Xinhua) -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed hope on Tuesday that a deal to free hostages held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip would be finalized "soon" and called for special cabinet meetings in response to "developments" related to the emerging deal.

"We are making progress," Netanyahu said, addressing the Qatar-mediated efforts to sign a deal to free some of the hostages in exchange for the release of Palestinian prisoners and a multi-day temporary cease-fire. "I hope there will be good news soon," he said during a tour near the Israel-Lebanon border.

Israel's war cabinet is expected to meet in the evening, followed by the convening of the security cabinet and government. The Prime Minister's office announced in a press release that these special meetings are being called "in light of developments regarding the release of our hostages."

As part of the regular procedure in Israel, any potential swap deal that includes the release of Palestinian prisoners needs to be brought for a vote in both the security cabinet and the government.

Earlier on Tuesday, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said the group's officials are "close to reaching a truce agreement" with Israel and that Hamas has delivered its response to Qatar, according to a report by Israel's state-owned Kan TV news.

According to Kan, the deal would include the release of about 50 civilian hostages held by Hamas in exchange for the release of female and teen Palestinian prisoners from Israeli prisons, as well as a several-day pause in fighting.

About 240 hostages, comprising civilians, soldiers, children, women, and the elderly of various nationalities, were taken to Gaza by Hamas militants in their surprise raids on Oct. 7. About 1,200 people were killed in the attack, mostly civilians. Since the massive offensive launched by Israel on the very same day, at least 13,000 have been killed in the Gaza Strip, primarily civilians, according to the government media office in the besieged enclave.