International Revealed! The Secret Behind the Hamas-Israel Ceasefire Deal News – 1 hour ago

Jakarta, CNBC Indonesia – Secret and silent negotiations for the release of prisoners by Hamas have apparently been carried out by Qatar and the United States (US) shortly after the October 7 attack on Israel by the Palestinian group.

The Qatari government reportedly contacted the White House with a request to form a small team of advisers, which they called a “cell”, to assist with the release of the captives privately with Israel.

The efforts, which began days after the hostages were taken, finally bore fruit with the announcement of a prisoner exchange deal mediated by Qatar and Egypt and approved by Israel, Hamas and the US.

The secretive efforts include tense personal diplomatic engagements by US President Joe Biden. He held a number of urgent talks with the Emir of Qatar and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the weeks leading up to the agreement.

It also involved hours of painstaking negotiations involving, among others, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director Bill Burns, national security adviser Jake Sullivan and his deputy Jon Finer, and US envoy to the Middle East Brett McGurk .

Two officials involved in the effort provided lengthy details of the work that led to a deal in which 50 hostages would be released in exchange for 150 Palestinian prisoners during a four-day lull in fighting.

“This was done without notifying other relevant US agencies because Qatar and Israel demanded extreme secrecy and few people knew about it,” the officials were quoted as saying The Straits TimesWednesday (22/11/2023).

Sullivan then directed McGurk and another National Security Council official, Josh Geltzer, to form the team.

McGurk, a seasoned diplomat with deep experience in the Middle East, holds daily morning calls with Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani.

He reported back to Sullivan and Biden was briefed daily on the process.

Biden got an early glimpse of what the victims of Hamas attacks are experiencing when he held an emotional and lengthy meeting on October 13 with the families of Americans who were taken hostage or who had not been found.

Days later, Biden traveled to Tel Aviv for talks on October 18 with Netanyahu. The official said freeing the hostages was the main focus of his discussions with Netanyahu and his war cabinet, as well as humanitarian assistance.

Five days later, on October 23, the White House team’s work helped free two American hostages. From outside US Secretary of State McGurk’s office in the West Wing, Sullivan and Finer tracked in real time the prisoners’ difficult journey out of Gaza over several hours.

“The return of the two Americans proves that freedom for the hostages is possible and gives Biden confidence that Qatar can make it happen through the small team that has been assembled,” the officials said.

Release of More Hostages

Now, an intensive process is continuing to release more hostages. When this happened, Burns began speaking regularly with Mossad director David Barnea.

“Biden saw an opportunity to free a large number of hostages and that a prisoner deal was the only realistic path to ending the fighting,” the officials said.

On October 24, as Israel prepared to launch a ground offensive in Gaza, the US received news that Hamas had agreed to the parameters of the deal to release women and children, which meant a pause and delay in the ground invasion.

US officials debated with Israel whether the ground offensive should be postponed or not. The Israelis argued that the conditions were not strict enough to warrant a delay, as there was no evidence of the hostages’ lives.

Hamas said it could not determine who was being held until a lull in fighting began.

The US and Israel also view Hamas’ position as dishonest. The official said Israel’s invasion plans were adapted to support a pause if a deal was reached.

Biden then engaged in detailed talks over the next three weeks as proposals regarding the possible release of the hostages continued to be discussed. Demands were made for Hamas to provide a list of hostages being held, their identity information, and guarantees of release.

“The process was long and complicated – communication was difficult and messages had to be conveyed from Doha or Cairo to Gaza and vice versa,” officials said. “Biden held a previously secret telephone conversation with the Qatari Prime Minister as the release phase began to take place.”

Under the agreement that is taking shape, the women and children hostages will be released in the first phase, along with the release of Palestinian prisoners from Israel in proportion.

However, this agreement created a lot of uncertainty, until talks stopped because communications went dark in Gaza.

The agreement is now structured to see women and children released in the first stage, with the hope of future release and the aim of bringing all the hostages home to their families.

“There is only one remaining issue, related to the number of hostages to be released in the first phase and the final structure of the agreement to provide incentives for the release of more than 50 known women and children,” the officials said.

“Many additional contacts took place, and an agreement was finally reached,” he concluded.

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