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Hamas’ ‘over the top’ response to hostage deal proposal – Permanent ceasefire

Israel has not yet issued an official statement of Hamas’ demand

Families of hostages and supporters block a road as they take part in a protest calling for their release amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Feb. 6, 2024. (Photo: REUTERS/Susana Vera)

After more than a week of deliberations, Hamas has communicated its response to the latest hostage deal proposal to Israel, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) announced on Tuesday evening.

“Hamas’ reply has been conveyed by the Qatari mediator to the Mossad. Its details are being thoroughly evaluated by the officials involved in the negotiations,” the PMO stated.

Hamas also published a statement on Tuesday, saying that it “dealt with the proposal in a positive spirit" while striving to negotiate "a comprehensive and complete ceasefire, ending the aggression against our people, ensuring relief, shelter, and reconstruction, lifting the siege on the Gaza Strip, and achieving a prisoner swap.”

Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani, one of the primary mediators in the negotiations, spoke with Israeli Mossad Director David Barnea over the phone before sending him the document with the terror organization’s response, Axios reported.

While Israel has yet to issue an official statement regarding Hamas’ response, in the past, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has strongly rejected the idea of putting a stop to the war before achieving complete victory

According to Axios, an Israeli official said it had “some positive aspects and some negative aspects” and could serve as a basis for further discussions.

In a first reaction, U.S. President Joe Biden said while “there is some movement [on the negotiations],” Hamas’ response “seems to be a little over the top.”

“We are not sure where it is going and we continue to negotiate,” he added.

Arabic al-Akhbar newspaper published a report about Hamas’ response, which included detailed comments and demands on every point in the proposal, according to KAN News Palestinian Affairs Correspondent Nurit Yohanan.

Among the demands was a full stop to Israel’s military operations, including airborne military operations. In addition, Hamas is demanding the release of 1,500 convicted prisoners, including 500 murder convicts; a massive increase in humanitarian aid; the restoration of water and electricity transport to the Gaza Strip; and the return of all hostages to Israel.

Hamas’ goal in the negotiations is the release of the largest possible number of terrorists from Israeli prisons, senior Hamas official Ghazi Hamad told Reuters.

“Netanyahu is trying to make everyone believe that he has or will achieve victory to preserve his coalition government,” he said.

Qatar’s prime minister and U.S. State Secretary Antony Blinken reacted to Hamas’ response during a joint press conference on Tuesday evening.

“We are optimistic and we delivered the response to Israel…we hope to reach a deal as soon as possible,” al-Thani said.

An agreement “is possible and essential,” Blinken added, stressing “the best path forward towards calm is through a hostage deal.”

Hamad told Reuters that the terror group is seeking the release of the largest number possible of Palestinians imprisoned by Israel.

“Netanyahu is trying to make everyone believe that he has or will achieve victory to preserve his coalition government,” Hamad said, adding that it took Hamas some time – over a week – to issue a response because “many of [the agreement’s] issues were unclear and ambiguous.”

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

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