Israeli official outlines tentative deal to free Hamas hostages: NBC

Candles lit in a Star of David shape surround a slogan during a gathering in Tel Aviv on November 21, 2023, calling for the release of Israelis held hostage in the Gaza Strip since the October 7 attack by Hamas militants, amid ongoing battles between Israel and the Palestinian armed group.

Ahmad Gharabli | AFP | Getty Images

A senior Israeli official on Tuesday outlined further details of a tentative hostage deal with Hamas, which Israeli cabinet members are reportedly voting on late Tuesday, according to NBC.

The source told NBC that the prospective agreement would release around 50 women and children hostages over the course of four days, during which time Israel would temporarily pause attacks to ensure the safe passage of the hostages. Israel would also agree to halt drone flights for a certain amount of time each day, though the source said Israel believes it can maintain oversight of Gaza without them.

Follow our live coverage of the Israel-Hamas war.

Under the current work-in-progress deal, the official confirmed that Israel would also release 150 Palestinian women and child prisoners who assisted in terror attacks but did not directly kill Israelis themselves. Families of the victims of the convicted prisoners would have a 24-hour opportunity to appeal their release to the Israeli Supreme Court.

The 24-hour timeframe to appeal means that any deal that Israeli cabinet members might sign on Tuesday cannot take effect until Wednesday at the earliest.

In addition, the official said Israel might agree to prolong the temporary cease-fire to five days instead of four if Hamas releases 10 more hostages. Extending the cease-fire in exchange for more hostage releases could be an ongoing negotiation tactic to set all of the hostages free, but the official said that the parties would treat the release of the first 50 hostages as a trial run and assess from there.

At this stage, Israel is only negotiating for Israeli hostages, according to the source. Other countries will have to conduct their own talks with Hamas to release their respective hostages. The official noted that many of the American hostages have dual-citizenship and therefore qualify as Israeli hostages.

Officials from Israel and the U.S., which has been involved in the talks, have reiterated that any potential deal could fall apart at a moment’s notice due to the especially sensitive and malleable nature of the terms.

“As you have heard us say a number of times over the course of the past few weeks, nothing is final until everything is final. And at this point everything is not yet final,” U.S. State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said at a Tuesday press conference.

The tentative agreement, if finalized Tuesday, would come more than six weeks after Hamas’ Oct. 7 terror attack, when the group took roughly 240 hostages from Israel. Approximately 1,200 people were killed in the rampage, which led Israel to invade the Gaza Strip and pledge to destroy the Palestinian militant group.

Only a very small number of hostages have been released or rescued since, despite much talk of a possible release deal. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly said that Israel will not stop its ruthless military campaign against Hamas in the Gaza Strip until the hostages are released.

— CNBC’s Katrina Bishop contributed to this report.

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