Israel’s Prime Minister Rejects Hamas’s Proposed Ceasefire Terms
“We are on our way to absolute victory,” says Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has dismissed Hamas’s proposed ceasefire terms, claiming that “total victory” in Gaza can be achieved within months. This comes after Hamas presented a series of demands in response to an Israeli-backed ceasefire proposal. According to Mr. Netanyahu, negotiations with the group have been unfruitful, and he described their terms as “bizarre”. Despite ongoing talks to reach an agreement, Mr. Netanyahu stated that “there is no other solution but a complete and final victory”.
Israel was expected to raise concerns about Hamas’s counter-offer, but Mr. Netanyahu’s response was an outright rejection. Israeli officials view Hamas’s attempt to end the war on its terms as completely unacceptable. A senior Hamas official dismissed Mr. Netanyahu’s remarks as political bravado and believed that he intends to continue the conflict in the region.
An Egyptian official source revealed that negotiations, mediated by Egypt and Qatar, would go ahead on Thursday in Cairo. Egypt has called on all parties to demonstrate flexibility to achieve a peaceful agreement. While Mr. Netanyahu’s rejection of the plan was described as “delusional”, Qatar viewed Hamas’s response as “positive”.
Hamas proposed a counter-offer to the ceasefire proposal. The terms included:
- Phase one: A 45-day pause in fighting during which Israeli women hostages, males under 19, the elderly, and sick individuals would be exchanged for Palestinian women and children held in Israeli jails. Israeli forces would withdraw from populated areas of Gaza, and the reconstruction of hospitals and refugee camps would commence.
- Phase two: Remaining male Israeli hostages would be exchanged for Palestinian prisoners, and Israeli forces would completely evacuate Gaza.
- Phase three: Both sides would exchange remains and bodies.
The proposed deal also aimed to increase the delivery of food and aid to Gaza. Hamas stated that negotiations to end the war would conclude within the 135-day pause in fighting.
Israeli Forces Prepare for Operation in Rafah
Mr. Netanyahu confirmed that Israeli forces have been instructed to prepare for operations in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, where tens of thousands of Palestinians sought refuge from the fighting. Expanding the conflict into Rafah would worsen the humanitarian situation, according to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. Displaced individuals at the Rafah Crossing expressed fear and desperation due to the lack of food and harsh weather conditions.
Mr. Netanyahu’s stance contradicts the sustained efforts by the US to reach an agreement. US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, considers the proposed deal as “the best path forward” and believes that an agreement can be reached. However, he also acknowledges that there is still work to be done.
Sharone Lifshitz, whose parents were kidnapped in southern Israel and taken to Gaza, believes that Mr. Netanyahu’s rejection of the ceasefire terms could endanger the lives of the hostages. She pleaded for her father’s release, emphasizing his frail condition and stating that his life is at stake.
The Diverging Visions for Gaza’s Future
Mr. Netanyahu’s rejection highlights the fundamental differences between the US and Israel’s plans for Gaza’s future. He insists on a scenario where Israel retains overall security control, while Gaza is governed by local bodies unrelated to Hamas or any other group. On the other hand, the US envisions a future that includes a Palestinian state.
The pressing question now is whether these talks can salvage an agreement to facilitate the exchange of hostages and prisoners and provide much-needed humanitarian relief in Gaza.
Read More of this Story at www.bbc.com – 2024-02-08 05:47:37
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