Gaza ceasefire hopes rise as Israel says it will resume negotiations

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Efforts to secure a ceasefire and hostage release in Gaza were gathering momentum on Friday after Hamas made a revised proposal on the terms of a deal and Israel said it would resume stalled negotiations.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told US President Joe Biden he would send a delegation to resume negotiations, and an Israeli official said his country's team would be led by the head of the Mossad intelligence agency.

A source in Israel's negotiating team, speaking on condition of anonymity, said there was a real chance of achieving agreement after Hamas made its revised proposal on the terms of a deal, received by Israel on Wednesday.

"The proposal put forward by Hamas includes a very significant breakthrough," the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity and giving no details.

The Israeli response to the Hamas proposal, submitted via mediators, was in marked contrast to past instances during the nearly nine-month-old war in Gaza, when Israel said conditions attached by the militant Islamist group were not acceptable.

A Palestinian official close to the internationally mediated peace efforts told Reuters the new Hamas proposal could lead to a framework agreement if it is embraced by Israel.

He said Hamas was no longer demanding as a pre-condition an Israeli commitment to permanently cease fire before the signing of an agreement, and would allow negotiations to achieve that throughout a first six-week phase.

"Should the sides need more time to seal an agreement on a permanent ceasefire, the two sides should agree there would be no return to the fighting until they do that," said the official, who asked not to be named.

Hamas has previously said any deal must end the war and bring a full Israeli withdrawal from Gaza and sought the release of Palestinian prisoners held in Israel in exchange for Israeli hostages held in Gaza.

Israel has previously said it will accept only temporary pauses in the fighting until Hamas, which governs the small, densely populated Gaza Strip, is eradicated.

Egyptian sources acknowledged there had been a shift but suggested that the core issue of commitment to a permanent ceasefire was still outstanding.

Gaza health authorities say more than 38,000 Palestinians have been killed in the Israeli offensive launched in response to a Hamas-led attack on Israel last October 7 in which Israel said 1,200 people were killed and over 250 taken hostage.

The war has caused a humanitarian crisis across Gaza and increased tension across the region, triggering frequent exchanges of fire across Israel's northern border with the Iran-backed Hezbollah group in Lebanon.

Hezbollah said on Friday its leader, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, and a top Hamas official, Khalil Al-Hayya, had met to discuss the latest developments in Gaza.

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