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Israeli Cabinet Approves Hostage Exchange with Four-Day Truce

The coalition government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyhu approved a deal with Hamas late on Nov. 21 that would see the release of at least 50 Israelis out of the 240 people taken hostage by Palestinian militants on Oct. 7. According to TV news reports cited by the Times of Israel, the Israeli hostages are to be released over four days beginning Nov. 23, in return for the release of 150 Palestinian prisoners, mostly women and minors, held in Israeli jails. A truce is supposed to be in effect during the times of release.

During the truce, there will be six hours per day when the IDF will not be using surveillance drones over Gaza. Humanitarian aid is supposed to increase considerably. The Israeli government is reported to have agreed to an additional day of truce for each additional 10 hostages released by Hamas beyond the initial 50 women and children.

Prior to the cabinet debate, Netanyahu vowed that the war against Hamas in Gaza would continue until all of Israel’s goals were achieved—the destruction of Hamas, the release of all the hostages, and assurance that no further threat from Gaza to Israel’s security existed. “We are at war, and the war will continue until all our goals are achieved.” The return of hostages is a top “sacred priority and I am committed to it,” he promised. “Before us is a difficult decision, but the right one. We will not rest until everyone is returned. The war has stages and the return of the hostages will have stages.”

Prior to the meeting of the full cabinet, both of the Kahanist parties in Netanyahu’s coalition—Otzma Yehudit of National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir and the Religious Zionism party headed by Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich—came out against the hostage deal. Together the two parties control only 6 seats out of 38 in the cabinet, while Likud controls 19. Likud’s seats, combined with 6 from Benny Gantz’s National Unity Party and 5 more from the Shas party, mean a clear majority in favor of the deal.