As both Israeli and American media reported progress in negotiations between Israel and Hamas, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu doubled down on his refusal to withdraw Israeli troops from Gaza as well as release thousands of terrorists from prison.
“I hear talk about all kinds of deals. I would like to make it clear: We will not conclude this war without achieving all of its goals. This means eliminating Hamas, returning all of our hostages and ensuring that Gaza never again constitutes a threat to Israel,” Netanyahu said.
“We will not withdraw the IDF from the Gaza Strip and we will not release thousands of terrorists. None of this will happen. What will happen? Total victory,” he added.
His statement came after yet another meeting with families of hostages.
“He heard all of us, took notes and listened to most questions. My indication is not whether I came out optimistic, he knows it’s not a simple situation and expressed that the hostages are of top concern for him. He stressed that he can’t ‘get in our shoes,’ same as we can’t get in his,” said Eitan Gonen, father of Romi Gonen who is held hostage in Gaza.
Haaretz reported that Hamas is ready for a hostage deal if it guarantees an extended ceasefire. Hamas officials met with Qatari and Egyptian mediators in Cairo this week to discuss the details of a ceasefire, according to Israel’s Channel 12.
The terror group’s political leader Ishmail Haniyeh said a proposal discussed in Paris this weekend was currently being reviewed and that Hamas is “open to discussing any serious and practical initiatives or ideas, provided that they lead to a comprehensive cessation of aggression.”
The ceasefire, he said, would have to ensure the “complete withdrawal of the occupation forces from the Gaza Strip.”
The proposal currently being discussed will be divided in to three phases, according to Reuters. During the first phase, elderly, civilian women and children hostages will be released while aid in to Gaza will increase.
In the second phase, female Israeli soldiers will be released as more aid will enter Gaza. Lastly, bodies of Israeli soldiers will be released in exchange for Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.
The idea of withdrawing Israeli troops from Gaza and releasing Palestinian prisoners is continuing to divide the government. National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir threatened to topple the government over a bad deal with Hamas, saying: “Reckless deal = Government split.”
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