Israel-Hamas Talks Over Hostage Releases and a Cease-Fire Stall

Talks between Israel and Hamas over the release of dozens of Israeli hostages held in Gaza have stalled, dimming hopes that a deal could be reached before Ramadan begins in a few days, according to several people briefed on the conversations.

Negotiators had been discussing a proposal for an initial six-week cease-fire during which Hamas would release about 40 people — including women, elderly and ill hostages, and five female Israeli soldiers — for a substantial number of Palestinian prisoners.

The discussions included terms for releasing at least 15 prisoners convicted of serious acts of terrorism who would be exchanged for the female soldiers. The terms also said Israel would release hundreds of other detainees or prisoners, at an average of 10 Palestinians for every Israeli civilian freed, officials said.

American officials had said that they hoped to reach an agreement to release some hostages and put in place a temporary pause in fighting before Ramadan, which is expected to start this Sunday. President Biden expressed confidence last week that a deal was within reach.

But in recent days, Hamas has backed away from the proposed agreement and made demands that Israel refuses to meet, according to officials briefed on the talks. The negotiations had been taking place in Doha, Qatar, before they moved to Cairo in recent days.

John F. Kirby, a senior National Security Council official, said on Wednesday that while the United States was disappointed that an agreement had not been reached, negotiators were still confident in the parameters of the deal they had helped negotiate.

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