Israelis Broach a Concession in Hostage Talks With Hamas

Israeli negotiators have offered a significant concession in cease-fire talks with Hamas, signaling that they might be open to releasing high-profile Palestinians jailed on terrorism charges in exchange for some Israeli hostages still being held in the Gaza Strip, according to two officials with knowledge of the talks.

President Biden said Monday that he believed negotiators were nearing an agreement that would halt Israel’s military operations in Gaza within a week, though earlier in the day, the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, was still talking about further military action.

Mr. Netanyahu said that the Israeli military had presented a plan to the war cabinet to evacuate civilians from “areas of fighting” in Gaza. He appeared to be speaking of Israel’s long-expected invasion of Rafah, the southern city where more than half of Gaza’s population is sheltering, many in makeshift tents.

Mr. Netanyahu did not disclose any details of the evacuation plan, and it was not clear whether he was using the prospect of an invasion as a cudgel to gain leverage in the negotiations. On Sunday, he said an invasion could be “delayed somewhat” if Hamas agreed to release Israeli hostages.

Many countries and international aid groups have warned that an invasion of Rafah could lead to mass casualties on top of the nearly 30,000 Gazans who, according to the territory’s health officials, have already been killed in the war.

Speaking with reporters in New York on Monday, Mr. Biden sounded optimistic about a deal to pause the fighting. “We’re close,” he said. “We’re not done yet. My hope is by next Monday, we’ll have a cease-fire.”

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