Latest Global News | Gaza hostage deal challenges are ‘just logistical,’ Qatar says

Qatar’s Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani attends a joint press conference with French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna (not pictured) at the Amiri Diwan, in Doha, Qatar November 5, 2023. REUTERS/Imad Creidi/ File Photo Acquire Licensing Rights

DOHA, Nov 19 (Reuters) – Qatar’s prime minister said on Sunday the main sticking points blocking a deal for the release of dozens of hostages taken by Palestinian group Hamas in their Oct. 7 attack on Israel were now “very minor” and mainly practical and logistical issues.

It followed a report in the Washington Post published on Saturday that said a deal for the release of 50 hostages had been agreed. The White House denied an agreement was reached.

Reuters said on Nov. 15 that Qatari mediators had been seeking a deal between Israel and Hamas to exchange 50 hostages in return for a three-day ceasefire, citing an official briefed on the talks. At the time, the official said general outlines had been agreed but Israel had still been negotiating details.

“The challenges facing the agreement are just practical and logistical,” Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman al-Thani said at a joint press conference with European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell in Doha.

“The deal is going through ups and downs from time to time throughout the last few weeks. But I think that you know I’m now more confident that we are close enough to reach a deal that can bring the people safely back to their home.”

The Washington Post, citing people familiar with the deal, reported that Israel, the United States and Hamas militants had reached a tentative agreement to free dozens of women and children held hostage in Gaza in exchange for a five-day pause in fighting.

However, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said no deal had been reached yet.

“The efforts are still ongoing … and we communicate with both parties, whether it’s with the Israelis or with Hamas, and we see there is a good progress especially happened in the last few days,” said Sheikh Mohammed.

Reporting by Andrew Gray, writing by Aziz El Yaakoubi; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise and Hugh Lawson

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Andrew is a senior correspondent for European security and diplomacy, based in Brussels. He covers NATO and the foreign policy of the European Union. A journalist for almost 30 years, he has previously been based in the UK, Germany, Geneva, the Balkans, West Africa and Washington, where he reported on the Pentagon. He covered the Iraq war in 2003 and contributed a chapter to a Reuters book on the conflict. He has also worked at Politico Europe as a senior editor and podcast host, served as the main editor for a fellowship programme for journalists from the Balkans, and contributed to the BBC’s From Our Own Correspondent radio show.