Monday, July 8, 2024

Netanyahu issues list of ‘nonnegotiable’ demands as hostage talks slated to restart

Ahead of the Israeli negotiating team’s departure for further hostage deal talks in Cairo and Doha later this week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu presented a list on Sunday evening of what he said were nonnegotiable Israeli demands, including a guarantee that Israel could resume fighting, which would need to be met in any hostage release and ceasefire deal with Hamas.

Netanyahu’s statement, at a crucial phase ahead of the resumption of talks, sparked anger, both in Israel and among mediators, with some accusing him of attempting to sabotage hard-won progress.

The renewed negotiations in both Egypt and Qatar come after the Hamas terror group said on Saturday that it was ready to discuss a hostage deal and an end to the war in Gaza without an upfront commitment by Israel to a “complete and permanent ceasefire.” That statement constitutes a shift in the position Hamas has held in all previous negotiations since November.

Hamas’s altered stance regarding the US-backed proposal for a phased truce and hostage exchange deal in Gaza could potentially pave the way for the first pause in fighting since November, although all sides have cautioned that a deal is still not guaranteed.

The list of four demands presented Sunday by the Prime Minister’s Office declared, first, that any potential deal must “allow Israel to return and fight until all the goals of the war are achieved.”

In addition, the statement read, it must be ensured that the deal will not allow for the smuggling of weapons from Egypt into Gaza, and nor can it allow for “the return of thousands of armed terrorists to the north of the Gaza Strip.”

Finally, the statement added, “Israel will maximize the number of live abductees that are released from Hamas captivity.”

“The plan that has been agreed to by Israel and that has been welcomed by President Biden will allow Israel to bring back hostages without infringing on the other objectives of the war,” the statement also declared. READ MORE