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People look at photos of Hamas hostages during a protest in Tel Aviv, Israel, calling for their release on November 11.
A recent draft of a possible deal to secure the release of hostages held by Hamas in Gaza proposes a four- to five-day pause in fighting for the initial release of 50 hostages, two sources familiar with the talks told CNN.
An agreement has not yet been reached and the text of the agreement has been the subject of discussions for weeks. But negotiators from various countries, including senior Biden administration officials, are expressing rare optimism about progress. Differences on some of the key sticking points have begun to narrow, sources said, and while negotiations could still break down, a deal could be within days.
“We believe we are closer than we have been at any time since these negotiations began weeks ago,” Deputy National Security Advisor Jon Finer told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union” Sunday. Finer did not go into details of the negotiations and stressed that there was no final agreement in place.
In a sign of the fragility of the negotiations, two sources told CNN that in recent days Hamas had suspended negotiations at least once. One of the many issues raised by the terrorist group, and which appears to have prompted Hamas to abruptly slide into obscurity amid the talks, was the Israeli raid on Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza. But the discussions eventually resumed.
A key issue still to be finalized is how to implement the deal, particularly regarding aid shipments to Gaza, a source close to the negotiations said on Sunday, following a meeting between the Prime Minister of Qatar and Brett McGurk, the White House Middle East coordinator. business. Qatar has been one of the main interlocutors in the talks.
The most recent discussions have proposed the staggered release of civilian hostages, with potentially increasing pauses after Hamas authorizes an initial release of a significant number of those captured, according to the sources.
Israel has presented a list of around 100 civilian hostages it wants to include in the deal, a source told CNN. Israel publicly demanded the release of all hostages. Hamas has indicated it would be prepared to release 50 hostages over a break of several days. More hostages, about 20 to 25, could be released later as the breaks drag on.
Hamas said it needed breaks in fighting to round up hostages held in different locations and by different Hamas-allied groups in Gaza.
The National Security Council and the Israeli Embassy in the United States declined to comment for this story. The Qatari Embassy in the United States did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
There are still details to be worked out regarding the aid, with Israel expressing concern that the aid could be used to help Hamas rather than civilians. Hamas had initially requested 500 aid trucks per day, one of the sources said. A source said no agreement had been reached on the number of aid trucks that could enter Gaza, but that more than 200 trucks presented a logistical challenge.
Questions also arise about how to inspect trucks and what entry points would be used. Aid, including fuel and cooking oil for bakeries, would continue to flow after the first breaks for the hostages.
CNN’s Priscilla Alvarez contributed to this report.