U.S. and Israeli officials said Sunday that a deal to release dozens of hostages being held by Hamas in Gaza could be closing in the coming days after news broke Saturday night that indicated such a plan was crystalizing.
Deputy National Security Adviser Jonathan Finer said on ABC’s “This Week” that “more than dozens” of hostages could be released as part of a potential deal brokered by the U.S., Israel and Hamas via intermediaries in Qatar. Finer reiterated that while officials are closing in on a deal, the discussions “have clearly reached a very sensitive stage.”
He also did not disclose the details of the potential deal but reiterated the notion that what remains are mostly logistical and practical hurdles.
“But we are not finished – there is not yet a deal in place. And I think it would be premature to conclude that this is inevitable given how close we have come in the past,” he said. “And I think one thing that I won’t do is go through all the outstanding areas in which there are still negotiations. We don’t negotiate these things in public. But it is a very high priority to try to get this done.”
He also said that the U.S. believes that a “majority” of hostages are still alive and that a “significant number” could be released as part of the deal. When pressed on how many could be released, he said “certainly more than dozens.”
Finer made similar comments on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday, where he said “considerably more than 12” hostages could be released.
Militant group Hamas took approximately 240 people as hostages, including Israelis, Americans and other foreign nationals, during its initial Oct. 7 attack on Israel, which left more than 1,200 people dead. Since then, only a handful of hostages have been released.
For more than a month, U.S. officials have said they are prioritizing getting the hostages out of Gaza. In the latest round of negotiations, Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Herzog said Sunday that a deal could be closed in the next few days.
“We are hopeful that we can get a significant number of hostages freed in the coming days. I don’t want to go into the details of these talks. They are obviously very sensitive,” Herzog said on ABC’s “This Week.” “The less we’re going to the details, the better the chances of such a deal. But they are very serious efforts and I’m hopeful that we can have the deal in the coming days.”
Herzog also said they are discussing “a pause in the fighting for a few days” so that the hostages could be released.