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Qatar relaying cease-fire proposal to Hamas after ‘good progress’

Qatar’s prime minister said Monday that his government was working to relay a new cease-fire proposal to Hamas after “good progress” was made in talks involving Israel and the United States over the weekend.

U.S., Israeli, Egyptian and Qatari officials agreed on a framework for a temporary cease-fire that would see the release of Israeli children and women held hostage by Hamas in an initial phase, along with an increase in humanitarian aid deliveries into the Gaza Strip.

That framework is currently being communicated to Hamas’s leadership in Gaza, Qatari Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said during a discussion with the Atlantic Council in Washington, D.C.

“We are hoping, actually, to relay this proposal to Hamas and to get them to a place where they engage positively and constructively in the process,” the Qatari premier said in a discussion with NBC chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell.

He described the discussions in Europe, which involved CIA Director William Burns and Israeli Mossad chief David Barnea, as making “good progress” and a “foundation for the way forward.”

The New York Times reported last week that the U.S. proposed Israel halt its military operation in Gaza for at least two months.

A November deal between Israel and Hamas that saw more than 100 hostages released included an initial pause in fighting for a few days, which was extended as additional hostages were released. Israel also released Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails and allowed the scale up of humanitarian aid deliveries into Gaza.

The U.S. and Israel blamed Hamas for violating the terms of the November agreement, and Hamas has called for a Israel to agree to a permanent cease-fire before hostages are released.

Sheikh Mohammed suggested a temporary cease-fire could lay the groundwork for a more permanent end of hostilities.

“There was a clear demand of the permanent cease-fire ahead of the negotiations, which I believe that we moved from that place, to a place where it has, potentially, might lead to a cease-fire permanently in the future,” he said.

The office of Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the negotiations in Europe “constructive” Sunday but added there remain “significant gaps which the sides will continue to discuss at additional mutual meetings to be held this week.”

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