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Israeli DM Gallant: No ceasefire during hostage negotiations, Saudi reports indicate Hamas to reject Biden offer

Israeli officials: We received no final response from Hamas

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant flies over the Gaza Strip in an IAF plane, Jan. 21, 2024. (Photo: Elad Malka/Defense Ministry)

Any discussion about a hostage deal with Hamas will “only be held under fire,” Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant stated on Wednesday before a report in a Saudi news outlet on Thursday indicated the terror group might reject the latest proposal presented by U.S. President Joe Biden.

While flying over the Gaza Strip and the border with Lebanon, onboard an Israeli Air Force (IAF) fighter jet, Gallant stressed that Israel would not halt the war to negotiate a settlement, as Hamas has demanded.

“The strikes and the plumes of smoke where the Israel Defense Forces attacks are clearly visible to the eye, both in the Gaza Strip and in the north,” Gallant said.

“We are in a process where we will continue to wear down the enemy. Any negotiations with the Hamas terror organization will only be conducted under fire,” he stated.

On Thursday, Israeli officials said Hamas had not yet issued an official response, following a report in the Saudi newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat that claimed Hamas officials had rejected the latest proposal despite positive signs earlier.

Hamas claimed the offer it received from mediators differed significantly from the proposal presented by Biden and demanded guarantees that the war would end under any deal.

“Israel is manipulating. They want a temporary truce, then the war will resume… They use ambiguous texts that are open to interpretation,” a source told Asharq Al-Awsat.

Last weekend, Biden presented a three-stage plan that would begin with a complete ceasefire while the two parties continued negotiating final details.

On Wednesday, White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan confirmed this was still “a live proposal,” adding: “The Israeli government has reconfirmed as recently as today that the proposal is still on the table and it is up to Hamas to accept it.”

CIA Director Bill Burns traveled to Qatar on Tuesday to meet with Qatari and Egyptian mediators. While a breakthrough was not reached, the talks were ongoing, a source told the Axios news site after the meeting.

The next day, Qatar’s prime minister and Egypt’s director of intelligence talked to senior Hamas officials to advance the talks, Axios said.

After the meeting, Hamas political leader, General Ismail Haniyeh, stated the terror group would deal “seriously and positively” with any ceasefire proposal that would see an end to the war and the complete withdrawal of Israeli troops from the Gaza Strip.

On Monday, Biden called the emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani, urging him to pressure Hamas leaders to accept the comprehensive plan.

In a phone call between the two leaders, Biden assured Al-Thani that Israel was ready to move ahead under the terms he presented while noting that Hamas was “now the only obstacle to a complete ceasefire and relief for the people of Gaza,” according to a readout released by the White House.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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