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Hamas repeats ceasefire demand ahead of Cairo talks

Israel previously agreed to temporary pauses in fighting to secure release of hostages, but still vows to dismantle Hamas as a military and political force in Gaza

Israeli forces operating in Gaza (Photo: IDF)

The Qatari newspaper al-Araby claimed on Sunday that Hamas still insists that the war should end as part of a potential hostage release agreement.

A Hamas spokesman said that the organization demands a full withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza, as a precondition for potentially releasing the names of the Israeli hostages that are still alive.

Hostage negotiations resumed on Sunday in Cairo, however, there will reportedly be no Israeli delegation in Egypt because Jerusalem is skeptical about Hamas following through with the agreement.

Israel recently expressed its disappointment that the negotiators in Egypt and Qatar had failed to convince Hamas to provide the number and identities of living Israeli hostages in Gaza.

“The mediators promised that Hamas would give numbers and that didn’t happen,” an Israeli official stated.

“There is no point in starting another round of talks until we receive the lists of which of the hostages are alive and until Hamas gives its answer regarding the ‘ratio’ that defines how many prisoners will be released for each hostage.” 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu demanded on Thursday to know names in advance before any further talks and reaffirmed that Israel would not give in to Hamas’ “delusional demands”.

Israel previously rejected the terror group’s demands for the release of thousands of convicted terrorists from Israeli jails. Being under intense Israeli military pressure, Hamas seeks survival by demanding a “permanent ceasefire.”

While Israel has agreed to a temporary truce to secure the release of more hostages, Jerusalem has rejected a permanent ceasefire and still vows to dismantle Hamas as a military and political force in Gaza.

Egyptian officials reportedly informed Reuters that the parties are currently looking into the prospect of a six-week truce, during which 40 Israeli hostages would be released in exchange for an undisclosed number of convicted Palestinian terrorists who are currently being held in Israeli jails.

While Israel demands the release of all hostages, the main focus is on the female, young, elderly and ill or wounded hostages.

A senior U.S. official announced on Saturday that a tentative deal had emerged.

“The path to a ceasefire right now literally at this hour is straightforward. And there’s a deal on the table. There’s a framework deal.”

Despite Israel's reservations, Washington announced on Saturday that the Jewish state had, in principle, accepted the framework of this proposed truce. The senior U.S. official stressed that a potential new agreement was now dependent upon Hamas’ response.

“Right now, the ball is in the court of Hamas and we are continuing to push this as hard as we possibly can,” the official said. “The deal is basically there. But I don’t want to create expectations one way or the other.”

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

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