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‘Very minor’ obstacles to hostage deal remain: Qatar PM

21-11-2023

DOHA: Qatar PM says only “very minor” obstacles to hostage release deal remain and these are mainly practical and logistical issues.

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu says nothing has yet been agreed and ruled out a full ceasefire, the White House says officials are working to agree a deal.

Earlier the Washington Post reported that Israel, Hamas and the US were close to agreeing the release of some hostages in return for a pause in fighting.

The World Health Organization says 291 critically ill patients including 32 babies are still at al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City, after many Palestinians evacuated on foot on Saturday.

The Palestinian news agency Wafa says 13 people have been killed in an Israeli air strike on Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza and two others in a strike on Khan Younis.

The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza says more than 12,300 people have been killed in the territory since Israel began its campaign against Hamas.

Qatar has been playing a leading role in mediation efforts to secure the release of hostages being held by Hamas in Gaza.

It was involved in the negotiations that have seen four people freed so far – a mother and daughter, who are US nationals, and two elderly Israeli women.

The small, gas-rich Arab Gulf state is home to the political leadership of Hamas, which has had an office in the capital, Doha, since 2012, headed by its leader Ismail Haniyeh.

There, Hamas officials have been sitting down with Qatari diplomats from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to work discuss hostage releases.

Qatari PM Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani told a press conference earlier: “The challenges that remain in the negotiations are very minor compared to the bigger challenges – they are more logistical, they are more practical.”

The Washington Post has reported that a deal that would see Hamas release dozens of hostages is imminent. The US and Israel have denied any such deal, but we’ve heard from Qatar that negotiators are ironing out minor issues in the deal.

“The challenges that remain in the negotiations are very minor compared to the bigger challenges, they are more logistical, they are more practical,” Qatar’s Prime Minister Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman al-Thanisaid in a joint press conference with EU Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell. He added that he was “more confident that we are close enough to reach a deal”. (Int’l News Desk)

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