Qatar says Hamas ‘positive’ on deal, Blinken to raise with Israel

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (C) waves as he departs to Doha at Cairo East airpoirt on February 6, 2024, during his Middle East tour, his fifth urgent trip to the region since the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza erupted in October. (Photo by Mark Schiefelbein / POOL / AFP)

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(AFP) – Qatar said Tuesday that Hamas has delivered a “positive” response to a proposal to free hostages in return for pausing the Gaza war, which US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will take to Israel.

“We have received a reply from Hamas with regards to the general framework of the agreement with regards to hostages. The reply includes some comments, but in general it is positive,” Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani said after meeting Blinken in Doha.

The Qatari prime minister — who took part in talks a week ago in Paris with Israel, Egypt and the CIA that came up with the proposal — said he was “optimistic” but declined to discuss the Hamas reply in detail, citing the “sensitivity of the circumstances”.

Hamas confirmed that it submitted its response to Egypt and Qatar.

Blinken, on his fifth tour of the region, said that he would discuss the proposal on Wednesday in Israel, where Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has faced pressure from hardliners against perceived concessions to Hamas.

“There’s still a lot of work to be done. But we continue to believe that an agreement is possible and indeed essential, and we will continue to work relentlessly to achieve it,” Blinken said.

Blinken said that the deal “offers the prospect of extended calm, hostages out, more assistance in”.

“That would clearly be beneficial to everyone, and I think that offers the best path forward,” Blinken said.

© Agence France-Presse

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