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Sources: Deal Would Call For Release Of 50 Women And Children In Exchange For 4-5 Day Fighting Pause; Now: Israeli Security Cabinet Meeting To Discuss Hostage Deal; Families Of Hostages Protesting Outside Israeli Parliament. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired November 21, 2023 - 12:30   ET



DANA BASH, CNN HOST: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sounded optimistic just moments before going into the meeting.


BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER (through translator): Second goal, the return of the kidnapped. We are making progress. I don't think it's worth saying more, even at this moment, but I hope there will be good news soon.


BASH: CNN's Becky Anderson is in Doha. Becky, you are there in Qatar talking to sources who are very much involved in making this deal happen? What are you hearing at this hour?

BECKY ANDERSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Yes, captain mediators have been involved from the very outset over weeks of complex negotiations. They are mediating these tools between Hamas on the one side and Israel on the other who are not in direct negotiation supported, of course, by the United States as well.

And what I've been told by a diplomatic source very familiar with these talks is that Qatar hopes to announce a deal in the very near future, and we are talking about ours, at this point, if not less than that.

We do know that the Israelis are gathering their war cabinet, then there'll be a security cabinet. And then this deal, the details of this deal will be put in front of the government. And at that stage, if it is all agreed on, there will be an announcement.

On the release in the first phase of 50 hostages, mostly women and children. In fact, almost all women and children are in this first phase, and I'm being told it will be mostly children, Israelis and some jewel nationals potentially. This is in exchange for Palestinian women and teenagers held in Israeli prisons.

For every one hostage released. In Gaza, it will be three released from Israeli prisons. So that's the sort of -- those are the sort of parameters of this deal. Names at this point are not available, but multiple sources telling us that this is a four-day truce. And I use that term very specifically, this is not a ceasefire, Dana, that is being agreed to here. This is a truce in the Gaza Strip.

The pillar of this deal, of course, is the hostage release. It also includes the entry of some 300 trucks a day of aid. The Israelis in this agreement, as we understand it, are to stop their ground operations for this period of four to five days. And at periods during the day, will stop flying surveillance drones.

So this is a truce agreement, brokered by Qatar here with the support of the United States between Israel and Hamas expect to see the first phase, the first 50 of these hostages released in groups over those four to five days.

And I'm told by those who are very close to these talks, that should this be successful, should it hold, should this four-day truce hold. There was a very good likelihood that there will be another phase of this almost immediately, which will allow for the release of another 50 hostages.

This is not all the hostages, we know that. We are talking about probably around 100 in this agreement, ultimately. So for families who've got young men, soldiers still being held or held by Hamas in Gaza, this is going to be very disappointing, but it's a big breakthrough, the first breakthrough in -- since this conflict began and it's certainly a start, as far as those involved in these talks are concerned. Dana?

BASH: Becky, such important and excellent reporting. And I'm sure that our viewers can sense the the urgency in your voice based on the conversations that you've had with sources before coming on the air. Please keep us posted, obviously, if you hear anything as we continue on with our program.

Again, thank you so much, Becky.

Joining me now to talk more about this is Eyal Hulata, former Israeli national security adviser and former head of Israel's National Security Council. Your thoughts on what Becky just reported?

EYAL HULATA, FORMER ISRAELI NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Yes. So as you said, I think Becky described it very well. The situation is very tense because those are delicate moments. Hope everybody in Israel are hoping that this will come through as it is.

I have to say there's nothing really to celebrate here. And then we're talking about 53 perhaps women and children. Hopefully, they're all alive. Hopefully, they were good taken care of. They've been in tunnels for 45 days after being snatched from their beds and homes in October 7th. And there are still many more that are there.


Israel would need to get all of them out before there's any progress that can happen. And ultimately Hamas will need to stop ruling Gaza. But this is a start. As Becky said, this is very important. The families have been waiting for that news for a long time.

And it's been negotiated for so long because Israel has insisted that we get all of the children and of the women out while Hamas was trying to break them into into groups, which we cannot agree to. This is playing with our emotions.

It's very important that we got them all. It's very important that they're all alive. Hopefully this is the case. It ain't over until it's over. And we will know I guess in hours.

BASH: Can you talk about the contours of this deal? One of the things that striking is the idea is that one captive inside Gaza for three Palestinian prisoners inside Israel. Why that?

HULATA: Well, you know, we have to confess about our weaknesses as a nation. As a Jewish people, we value life. And when we do that, we eventually find ourselves paying high prices to getting our kidnapped back. The others might remember and you for sure, when we got Gilad Shalit back, we released about 1,000 of them.

BASH: Yes.

HULATA: One of them actually is up Sinwar who was leading Gaza right now responsible for this massacre that we had there. This is the way that Israel has done that in the past. And, of course, there's a lot of criticism in it. And there's criticism right now, I mean, there are ministers in this -- in the Cabinet who oppose that for that reason, specifically, but this is what we do.

We're very moral. And we want them back. Just the thinking that they might be in the tunnels and for more weeks and days, and eventually some of them will get killed or ill. This is who we are as Israelis. I'm actually proud of that. So if it's 123, 123. If it's 104, 104. What's important is that eventually we get them all back, hopefully alive.

BASH: What Becky also said was that -- and this is really critically important that this is considered a pause. It is not a ceasefire, it is very different. And if, in fact, that goes through, the pause, for several days in exchange for its humanitarian exchange or getting the hostages back from Gaza, the hope is that, if that is successful, more hostages can come home.


BASH: Is that your understanding?

HULATA: Yes. So from what I understand from Israel, talking to people back home, the way this is structured is that after the first group of 53. We can extend the pause for about 10 hostages a day. And I truly hope this comes through. But this isn't the end of it.

What the audience needs to understand is that Israel will continue to fight until all of the hostages are back. And the ultimate purpose and goal is that Hamas ceases to rule Gaza, otherwise, there is no future for Gaza. So -- BASH: So you just said two separate things which have very different

strategies. Israel's not done until Hamas is gone. Israel is not done until the hostages go back.

HULATA: Right.

BASH: Those could be very conflicting goals. I mean, they have been for the last 45 days.

HULATA: That's true. And in Israel over the last few days, there have also been a debate among the ministers of the war Cabinet about what's the priority between those two, because they are conflicting. And they're true strategies, but they're both important.

My personal view and my argument was that we need to get the hostages back. We need to get live people back home. This is who we are as a people. This has devalue the core value of us as a Jewish people. We need to get them back. But this won't end because there will be no future for the Gazans as long as they are ruled by Gaza.

The Gazans -- Hamas has betrayed his own people, not only a strike a massacre upon us. And we will need to get all of that fulfilled before they can be any future and Gaza.

BASH: Eyal Hulata, thank you so much. Thank you for your expertise.

HULATA: Thank you.

BASH: Don't go too far. Thank you.

HULATA: Thank you.

BASH: We continue our breaking coverage. Sources are telling CNN that a deal with Hamas to release about 50 hostages inside Gaza or from inside Gaza, I should say, could come very soon. Stay with us.



BASH: Right now, Israel's war Cabinet is meeting as a hostage deal between Israel and Hamas could be imminent. What you're looking at right now are pictures and very loud sound of people protesting outside the Knesset as these talks are happening inside Israel's war Cabinet. The people you're looking at, we're told, are family members of hostages, demanding that the government approved this deal and that their loved ones can finally come home.

Let's go to Jeremy Diamond who is in Sderot near the border with Gaza. Jeremy, what's happening at this moment where you are?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Dana, over the last several hours, we have been watching as the fighting has continued in the northern part of the Gaza Strip. We saw earlier today two very, very large explosions louder than we have seen in recent days. [12:45:03]

And we also saw there was a smokescreen deployed in the area of Beit Hanoun, the northeastern most city in the Gaza Strip, indicating that troops -- Israeli troops are likely moving either vehicles or personnel. And clearly, the fighting is continuing even as the Israeli government nears a possibility, the possibility of finalizing this potential agreement to free hostages.

And it is also very clear that the fighting will continue right up until a truce agreement is potentially announced. That has been the history of this conflict in the past, where in the hours before a truce or a ceasefire is announced, oftentimes, the fighting intensifies very often on both sides.

But at this hour, Dana, I also want to tell you about some conversations I had with the families of some of those children who are held hostage inside of Gaza. I spoke with a couple of different families. One of them is the family of Shiri Bibas who -- a woman who was taken hostage inside of Gaza with two of her children, a 10-month- old and a four-year-old.

I spoke with Yifat Zeiler, her cousin, who told me that at the at this moment, they feel largely in the dark about whether or not these family members who are being held hostage in Gaza are or are not on the list of people who will be released as part of this initial deal if indeed it goes through.

And she said that it is really an anxious moment. They are largely getting their information from news reports. And they are really trying to avoid getting their hopes up too high because of the uncertainty about whether their family members are still alive and whether or not they are indeed on the list to be released dinner. Dana?

BASH: Gosh. Can you imagine? It's really hard to wrap your mind around and your heart around, Jeremy. We hear these numbers and for each of these numbers of hostages, they are human beings, some of whom are children, and their family members are just on pins and needles. They don't know if they're going to be among the 50.

Thank you so much, Jeremy. Appreciate it.

And we continue our breaking coverage up next. Stay with us.



BASH: We're standing by for an announcement on a hostage deal which could come any minute now. Eyal Hulata is back with me again. He is a former Israeli national security adviser and former head of Israel's National Security Council.

We were watching what's going on inside Israel where -- by the way, you just returned, right? HULATA: This morning.

BASH: You just came off the plane.

HULATA: Just came from the airplane.

BASH: There are protesters outside, there are family members of the hostages saying, get a deal now.

HULATA: Yes. So, I mean, situation in Israel at the moment is very tense, because the families of the hostages and also survivors from the massacre, most of them, of course, support getting them back because they're alive, right, and the children and women and elderly that we want back at home.

They're also protesting has to do. You know, I mean, this is -- Israel isn't democracy, it's --

BASH: Yes.

HULATA: -- and there are people on all sides. I think it's important that this comes through. I think it's very important. You know, as you said, I just came back from Israel. I spent a week there, talk to people, talk to families.

You know, I am here in D.C. since August. I've never seen Israel so sad. It's -- the feeling is so deep. It's so grave. People just want to get on with us so we can start rebuilding the fabric of our society that has been torn for the beginning of the year for a host of things and since October 7.

This has been so devastating. It's like a knife in the heart of all of those families. And you see this in the pictures. He put one of their kids back. They want their families back.

BASH: Eyal, thank you so much for sticking around. I think we'll talk to you in the next hour.


BASH: Appreciate it.

Thank you for joining Inside Politics. We're going to continue with our breaking news coverage after a short break.



BASH: The freedom of dozens of hostages inside Gaza could hang on a vote in Israel's Cabinet, which is happening at any moment. The most senior members of Israel's government are about to meet to a potential deal. Some 50 hostages are being held, of course, by Hamas, those are the ones we believe who are on the deal on the list to be released in exchange for imprison Palestinians inside Israel You're looking at pictures right now of families of those hostages

outside the Knesset demanding that there is a deal so that loved ones who have been held for more than 45 days inside Gaza can be released.

Here in the United States, President Biden was hopeful about the prospects of such a deal.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're now very close, very close. We could bring so many hostages home very soon. But I don't want to get into the details of things because nothing is done until it's done. And we have more to say we will, but things are looking good at the moment.


BASH: Now since October 7 when more than 1,000 people were brutally killed, brutally killed, raped, women were raped, children were killed in unimaginable ways. Those who were spared that fate, many of them, over 200 of them were taken hostage inside Gaza.

Since then, only four hostages have been released by Hamas. That's four of the roughly 240, two others have been confirmed dead by Israel.