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Behind the scenes of the intense talks that led to the hostage deal

TJI Pick
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Behind the scenes of the intense talks that led to the hostage deal

Published: 24 November 2023

Last updated: 5 March 2024

A multilateral group set up by Qatar with the personal involvement of President Biden brokered the deal announced on Tuesday.

On October 13, US President Joe Biden held a Zoom call with the families of some of the hostages being held by terrorists in Gaza, doing so even before Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did.

The call set the stage for Washington’s intensive efforts to secure the release of the hostages, which climaxed before dawn on Wednesday when Israel and Hamas announced that they had agreed to the terms of a Qatar-brokered deal that would see 50 Israeli women and children released in exchange for a four-day ceasefire.

“It was one of the most gut-wrenching things I think I’ve ever experienced in that office,” said a senior Biden administration official who briefed reporters on Tuesday evening, referring to the October Zoom call. At this point, hostage negotiations were in their infant stages.

Qatar had reached out to the US and Israel shortly after Hamas’s October 7 onslaught.

Doha proposed that a multilateral “cell” be established with representatives from Qatar, the US and Israel  to negotiate “very secretly” toward an agreement.

Mossad chief David Barnea led the talks on the Israeli side with assistance from Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer and National Security Council chairman Tzachi Hanegbi.

Much of Qatar’s contacts were led by its Prime Minister, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al-Thani. Egypt also played a crucial role in “filling in the gaps” and was led by intel chief Abbas Kamel.

As well as having his team of aides working on the issue around the clock, Biden was personally involved at various critical stages.

Behind the scenes of the intense talks that led to the Israel-Hamas hostage deal (Times of Israel)

Photo:US Secretary of State Antony Blinken with Qatari Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al-Thani in Amman, Jordan, on November 4 (Jonathan Ernst/Pool Photo via AP)

The Jewish Independent acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the Traditional Owners and Custodians of Country throughout Australia. We pay our respects to Elders past and present, and strive to honour their rich history of storytelling in our work and mission.

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