Netanyahu rejects Hamas conditions for Israeli hostage deal

January 22, 2024 11:23 am

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday rejected conditions presented by Hamas to end the war and release hostages that would include Israel’s complete withdrawal and leaving Hamas in power in Gaza.

As Israeli planes resumed bombing Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, senior Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri told Reuters the Israeli leader’s refusal to end the military offensive in Gaza “means there is no chance for the return of the (Israeli) captives.”

Under a deal brokered in late November by the United States, Qatar and Egypt, more than 100 of the estimated 240 hostages taken captive to Gaza during an attack by Hamas militants on Oct. 7 were freed in exchange for the release of 240 Palestinians held in Israeli prisons.

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Since then, Netanyahu has faced mounting pressure to secure the release the 136 hostages who remain in captivity.

The Hostages and Missing Persons Families Forum demanded in a statement that Netanyahu “clearly state that we will not abandon civilians, soldiers, and others kidnapped in the October debacle.”

Relatives of the hostages at a protest outside Netanyahu’s residence demanded action.

Netanyahu also took a stronger line on the issue of Palestinian statehood than before.

U.S. President Joe Biden said on Friday he spoke with Netanyahu about possible solutions for creation of an independent Palestinian state, suggesting one path could involve a non-militarized government.

Netanyahu appeared on Saturday to push back against Biden’s remarks about Palestinian statehood after the war against Hamas in Gaza ends as the two men do not see eye-to-eye on Palestinians having a state, a solution Biden has advocated to achieve long-term peace.

In the statement on Sunday, Netanyahu repeated that he would insist upon “full Israeli security control over all the territory west of Jordan.”

Netanyahu said he had firmly stood up to “international and internal pressures” to change this position and would continue to do so.