Israel vote is a major step in the right direction, but it remains a very fragile situation

World

The hostage release deal has been delicately structured after weeks of negotiation and many false starts.

After ratification by Israel’s war cabinet, security cabinet and full cabinet, Benjamin Netanyahu now has the support of Israel’s security establishment.

Some 50 hostages will be released, in phases, all with Israeli citizenship. Roughly 12 every day.

We understand Hamas has agreed to release women and children, but not female IDF soldiers they’ve captured.

Israel backs hostage release deal – get live updates

Around 40 children are being held – it’s unclear whether only they and their mothers will be released or all civilian women, including grandmothers.

In exchange, it’s been reported that 150 Palestinian women and children will be freed from Israeli prisons – that’s a ratio of 3:1.

Israel might agree to suspend surveillance flights over Gaza for six hours a day but will not withdraw its troops from northern Gaza – that appears to be a significant concession given that Hamas will want to exploit the situation when Israel is ‘blind’ to regroup and rearm.

Israel is holding Hamas responsible for maintaining the pause in fighting – if Islamic Jihad or another militant group break the truce, then Israel will blame Hamas, strike back and the truce will be in jeopardy.

Israel is also likely to offer Hamas the chance to extend the ceasefire, day-by-day, if more hostages can be released – foreign nationals for example.

There is a strong belief in Israeli political circles that at least 80 hostages could be released and Hamas will no doubt want to drip-feed hope to prolong the pause and so it wouldn’t be a surprise if the truce is extended to allow more hostages out.

“Nothing is agreed until it’s all agreed,” the White House has previously said, and although tonight’s developments are a major step in the right direction, it remains a very fragile situation.

We await the specifics.

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