By Athena Papakosta

Negotiations for the release of the hostages are in full swing with the possibility of a temporary ceasefire remaining on the table in return. Israel, Hamas and the United States they officially deny that they have reached an agreement, but the whispers about the progress of the discussions are getting thicker.

Qatar, which plays a key role in the negotiations for the release of the abductees, confirms that Israel and Hamas are close to “finding each other”. In particular, the country’s prime minister, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani, speaking from Doha as part of a press conference with the head of European diplomacy, Josep Borrell, said he is confident that an agreement can be reached, adding that the challenges to achieving they remain “too small” for her.

It was preceded by a report in the US newspaper Washington Post which said that Israel and Hamas have reached a six-page draft agreement to release about 50 hostages – which could start even at the last minute – in exchange for a five-day ceasefire.

The White House denied the report, stressing that Washington is still working to reach an agreement with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu himself, making it clear that he could agree to a temporary ceasefire only and in return, of course, for the return of the hostages. In fact, he did not fail to list again the three goals of his country: first, the destruction of Hamas, second, the release of the hostages, and third, the elimination of any threat from Gaza.

However, on Sunday, the Israeli ambassador to the United States of America, Michael Herzog, speaking to the American ABC, emphasized that he hopes that “in the next few days” an agreement will be reached for the release of a significant number of those kidnapped by the Islamist Palestinian organization. In fact, he added that “serious efforts are being made” but, the less details he reveals, “the more the chances are for such an agreement”.

Four of the hostages have so far been freed, with anxiety and anger inside Israel running high as a grand five-day march of hundreds of hostages’ relatives and supporters finally reaches Jerusalem demanding a meeting with Netanyahu and his supporters. his war cabinet.

In total, the hostages are believed to be 239 people from 26 different countries, including some with dual citizenship. For its part, Hamas claims 30 of them are dead as a result of Israeli bombardment – ​​claims that have not been independently confirmed by any source, with analysts not ruling out an attempt by the Islamist Palestinian group to prevent Israel from further escalation of its operations in the Gaza Strip.

Talks on the issue continue, however, as do the statements with the high-ranking adviser of the American president, Joe Biden, on Middle East issues, Kevin McGurk, choosing to exert pressure from Bahrain and the Security Summit “Manama Dialogue” emphasizes that the burden of freeing the abductees belongs to Hamas.

The thriller remains as the negotiation process continues and international pressure for a ceasefire mounts.