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Israel, Hamas reportedly make progress on 6-week cease-fire deal: Live updates

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An Israeli delegation was in Cairo on Tuesday for talks aimed at a cease-fire deal despite the prime minister’s skeptical public view that the latest offer from Hamas was “delusional.”

Israeli media reported that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had balked at sending representatives to Cairo but bowed to pressure from the Biden administration. Still, the Associated Press cited two officials with direct knowledge of the talks saying Israel and Hamas were making progress toward the six-week cease-fire pitched Monday by President Joe Biden.

The pause would allow negoiators to “take the time to build something more enduring,” Biden said after a White House meeting with Jordanian King Abdullah II. Political support in the U.S., crucial to Israel for gaining congressional approval of military aid, has been fading amid the rising civilian casualties.

A weeklong cease-fire in November led to the release of more than 100 militant-held hostages. Now talks appear to be moving forward even as Israel intensifies its offensive in the southern Gaza town of Rafah, where 1.4 million displaced Palestinians have fled to seek shelter from fighting elsewhere.

Developments:

∎ A Western diplomat in Cairo told AP the six-week deal was on the table but cautioned that more work is still needed to reach an agreement.

∎ The primary issues that continue to block a cease-fire include Israel’s pledge to crush Hamas and remain in charge of security in Gaza after the war while Hamas demands a permanent cease-fire and withdrawal of all Israeli troops.

∎ Secretary of State Antony Blinken will deliver keynote remarks at the event “Hostage Diplomacy as an International Security Threat: Strengthening our Collective Action, Deterrence and Response” at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars on Tuesday in Washington. It was not clear whether Blinken would discuss talks aimed at freeing the hostages held in Gaza. 

US is working on new hostage deal: Would pause fighting in Gaza for 6 weeks

CIA director William Burns, Israeli Mossad chief David Barnea and Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani were meeting with Egyptian officials in Cairo on Tuesday to discuss the possible truce, Egypt’s Al-Qahera News reported. AFP, citing a Hamas official who declined to be named, said Hamas and the other militant factions were open to discussing any initiative that ends the war.

The talks come as global outrage against Israel grows amid the military’s invasion of Rafah. On Monday, a brazen Israeli hostage rescue mission backed by heavy air power, freed two captives held in the border city. The Israeli raid, which drew overwhelming praise from Netanyahu and most Israelis, killed at least 74 Palestinians, according to Gaza health officials.

Most American Jews feel less safe in US: New report shows concerns

More than three-quarters of American Jews feel less safe as a Jewish person in the U.S. and nearly half have changed their behavior as a result, according to a report on antisemitism released Tuesday by the American Jewish Committee. The AJC’s State of Antisemitism in American 2023 report comes four months after Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel and a subsequent wave of rising antisemitism worldwide. It found that those who feel less safe are far more likely than those who don’t to see the status of American Jews as less secure than a year ago.

“No one should be fearful of being targeted or harassed for being Jewish when walking down the street, going to school, or being at work,” said Ted Deutch, the American Jewish Committee’s CEO. “This isn’t a new problem, but the explosion of antisemitism since Oct. 7 demands that we take collective action now.”

Marc Ramirez

Contributing: The Associated Press

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