Israel and Hamas broadly agree on the principle that an exchange of Israeli hostages for Palestinian prisoners could take place during a month-long ceasefire, but the conclusion of a final agreement is delayed by the differences between the two sides regarding the definitive end of the war.

Intensive mediation efforts led by Qatar, Washington and Egypt in recent weeks have focused on a phased approach to the release of different categories of Israeli hostages, starting with civilians and ending with soldiers, in exchange for a cessation of hostilities, the release of Palestinian prisoners and more humanitarian aid to Gaza.

The latest round of efforts to find a solution through diplomacy began on December 28 and reduced disagreements over the length of an initial ceasefire to about 30 days, after Hamas had initially proposed a truce of several months, Reuters reports.
But Hamas has since refused to move forward with the deal until future terms for a permanent ceasefire are agreed, according to sources.

Israel is sticking to the strategy of negotiating one stage at a time, while Hamas is seeking “a package deal” for a permanent ceasefire before the hostages are released in the initial phase. Israel and Hamas negotiate through mediators and do not talk directly.

A White House spokesman said on Tuesday that US Middle East envoy Brett McGurk was in the region for the second time in a week for talks on the release of the hostages and that Washington would support a longer “humanitarian pause”. .