PM Netanyahu with Egypt Intelligence Chief Abbas Kamel
PM Netanyahu with Egypt Intelligence Chief Abbas KamelGPO

The US and Egypt have in recent days increased pressure on the Hamas terrorist organization to accept a hostage deal with Israel to prevent an IDF operation in Rafah, the London-bases Asharq Al-Awsat Arabic newspaper reported.

According to the report, the Egyptian mediators made it clear to Hamas that this was the best deal he could get, and if it was not met, Israel would have the legitimacy to enter Rafah.

It was also reported that Egypt will try to bring about a phased deal so that in its first phase, hostages will be released in exchange for a ceasefire - and issues such as the cessation of hostilities or the control of the day after Gaza - will be postponed to a second phase and will be discussed later.

Yesterday (Saturday), Israeli journalist Barak Ravid reported that the new prisoner swap deal being discussed includes significant compromises on Israel's part, including, for the first time, a willingness to hold discussions regarding ending the war in Gaza.

Among other things, Hamas is being offered a willingness to fully return Gazans to their homes, the IDF's exit from the corridor that separates northern Gaza from southern Gaza, and a willingness to agree to a permanent ceasefire later on.

This is the first time that Israel has expressed a willingness to discuss ending the war in Gaza during the next stages of the negotiations.

According to an Israeli official, the new proposal was put together in cooperation with Egyptian intelligence officials and Israeli negotiations teams, taking into consideration Hamas' position and the terror group's ability to compromise.

Hamas rejected the most recent proposal for a hostage release deal. A senior Israeli official later said that Hamas' response to the mediators' latest proposal for a deal included agreeing to release only 20 of the 133 hostages it is holding, in exchange for a six-week ceasefire.