Netanyahu rejects Hamas proposal: “Agreement? Delusional conditions”

Benjamin Netanyahu closes the door on Hamas opening a possible three-phase agreement that favors an exchange of prisoners in exchange for a truce in the Gaza Strip. At the end of a feverish day on the negotiating front, the Israeli prime minister addressed the nation at a press conference, arguing that the Jewish state cannot surrender to the “delusional” conditions imposed by Hamas that would “lead to another massacre ” like this one from October 7th. “We are on the path to total victory” and “we will continue until the end”, insisted the prime minister, announcing that he had ordered the army to “start operating” in the Rafah area. Israel had already threatened to prolong the ground operation in the border area with Egypt if negotiations failed, raising the concerns of UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, who spoke of “incalculable regional consequences” in the event of an invasion of Rafah. .

Sami Abu Zuhri, a senior Hamas official, responded to Netanyahu, calling his words a “form of political bravado” that shows “an intention to continue the conflict” in the region. “We are ready to face all options,” he warned. Hamas’ proposal was divided into 135 days, divided into three stages of 45. The IDF would have to stop operations and withdraw from the enclave. At the same time, exchanges between Palestinian hostages and prisoners would have taken place: it would have started with children, women and the sick and then moved on to men. In the end, the two sides were supposed to exchange the bodies of the fallen. Israel initially said it wanted to evaluate the proposal, although it considered some of the requests contained in the draft “unacceptable”, reserving the right to decide whether to reject them outright or open a negotiation phase to obtain changes.

It is too early to say whether Netanyahu’s closure represents the end of negotiations or whether Israel is simply trying to soften Hamas’ positions. The international community is following with apprehension the negotiating efforts of Egypt and Qatar to reach an agreement, despite the ongoing tug of war between the two contenders. A new round of talks is expected to take place in Cairo, Egyptian sources said. The US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, after meeting with Netanyahu and Israeli President Isaac Herzog, distanced himself from the times of white smoke. Regarding the hostage agreement, explained the head of North American diplomacy, “there is still a lot of work to do, but we are focused on this work and we hope that the release of the hostages interrupted months ago can be resumed”. During his new visit to Israel, Blinken was also supposed to meet with the IDF Chief of Staff, Herzi Halevi, but the face-to-face meeting was canceled due to the choice of Netanyahu’s cabinet, which opposed the possibility of a meeting between a foreign diplomat and military leaders in the absence of elected leaders.

After representatives of the Israeli government, Blinken met with the president of the PA, Mahamoud Abbas, who asked Washington to recognize “the State of Palestine”. He then stressed the need to “immediately stop Israeli aggression” and accelerate “the introduction of humanitarian aid” in Gaza, where Palestinian casualties caused by Israeli attacks exceeded 27,700. The IDF operation, after having been concentrated for a long time in the north of the enclave, has now moved south, to Khan Younis, with an eye on Rafah, despite Guterres’ concerns, where a rocket had killed the head of the special unit Hamas police forces, Majdi Abd al-Aal.

Source: IL Tempo