Israel and Hamas Consider Hostage Deal as Austin Prepares to Visit

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin is expected to visit Israel on Monday, amidst discussions on implementing a hostage deal. The deal’s complexity means Hamas and Israel must agree on lists of prisoners and the withdrawal of Israeli forces behind predetermined lines. Israel has faced mounting pressure to free over 120 hostages remaining in Gaza, as Hamas insists that the deal include an IDF ceasefire. Israel has also agreed to open its main commercial crossing into Gaza to facilitate the entry of humanitarian aid. The United Nations Security Council will debate a resolution supporting the opening of routes into Gaza and a monitoring mechanism for goods. French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna has called for a humanitarian pause in the war. Pope Francis has openly criticized Israel’s actions in Gaza, while various Jewish groups have criticized his comments.