Palestinians stand at the Al-Zawiya market in Gaza City on November 27, 2023, on the fourth day of a temporary truce between the Israeli army and Hamas. Photo: AFP.

The Israeli government and the Islamic Resistance Movement Hamas have agreed to extend the truce in the Gaza Strip for two days, Qatar's Foreign Ministry spokesman and other government officials in the region confirmed on Monday.

In a message on X, Qatari Foreign Ministry spokesman Majed al-Ansari said that "as part of the ongoing negotiations, an agreement has been reached to extend the humanitarian truce for an additional two days."

According to the Qatari spokesman, the parties were making progress in talks to extend the truce, which has been in place for four days.

On Monday, the director of the State Information Service, Diaa Rashwan, who acts as spokesman for the Egyptian government, reported that Hamas will release 11 more hostages today, while Israel will release 33 Palestinians from their prisons, within the framework of the current truce.

So far, the hostage-for-prisoner swap has taken place on time, with the exception of a tense delay on Saturday after Hamas denounced Israel's failure to comply with the agreement.

In three days, Hamas has transferred 39 Israeli hostages to the Red Cross as part of the agreement with Benjamin Netanyahu's government, in addition to another 19 people not included in the pact: 17 Thai citizens, one Filipino and one Russian-Israeli.

For its part, Israel has released 117 Palestinian women and children in compliance with the agreement, which involved the release of 50 Israeli hostages in total in exchange for 150 Palestinian prisoners during the four-day truce agreed last week, which opened the door to an extension of up to ten days.

Since October 7, when Hamas killed some 1,200 people and took some 240 hostages in Israel, Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip has left some 14,800 dead, including more than 6,100 children, according to undetermined figures due to difficulties in updating reports.

In addition, more than 200 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank and East Jerusalem since the war began.

EU proposes Palestinian Authority control of Gaza

At a Euro-Mediterranean forum in Barcelona, in which Israel did not participate, the European Union proposed on Monday that the Palestinian Authority take control of the Gaza Strip.

Barcelona hosted the Regional Forum of the Union for the Mediterranean, which analysed the situation in the Middle East, with the notable absence of Israeli representatives, who declined the invitation.

The controversy between Spain and Israel, following Israeli accusations against Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez of "supporting terrorism" by Hamas, influenced the meeting.

Although there were disagreements on the resolution of the conflict between the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas and Israel, they all agreed to call for a cessation of hostilities, the entry of humanitarian aid into Gaza and respect for international law.

The High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission, Josep Borrell, warned that this "very serious humanitarian crisis" in Gaza is "unsustainable" and opted to extend the four-day truce between Israel and Hamas, which began last Friday.

Borrell, who stressed that "this is not a war between Jews and Muslims" or a "war of civilizations," warned that the problem "will not have a military solution," but that "Israel will only be able to live in peace and security if a political solution is reached" that allows "breaking the cycle of violence."

The senior EU official said that "the two-state solution", one Israeli and one Palestinian, has been advocated for a long time, but "little or nothing has been done to make it a reality".

Jordan's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates, Ayman Safadi, who co-chaired the forum with Borell, accused the Israeli government of committing "genocide" against the Palestinians and defended that peace depends on the two-state solution, the end of the Israeli occupation and the recovery of Palestine to its 1967 borders.

"We have to be very careful to only look at Gaza. Gaza has to be seen as a part of the entire Occupied Palestinian Territory. To see only Gaza is to fuel the future conflict," he warned.

(With information from agencies)

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