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Families of hostages slam Netanyahu's decision to discontinue Cairo negotiations

Gantz and Eisenkot reportedly angered about decision without their input

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a press conference in Jerusalem on February 7, 2024. (Photo: Marc Israel Sellem/POOL)

The Hostage Families’ Headquarters angrily admonished Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for deciding not to send an Israeli team to Cairo, Egypt to participate in the ongoing negotiations over a new deal to release the Israeli hostages being held by Hamas in Gaza.

“This is a scandalous decision that means a death sentence and the conscious sacrifice of 134 abductees languishing in the Hamas tunnels,” the organization’s spokesman Haim Rubinstein stated on Wednesday.

“In light of this decision, the families of the abductees fear that a decision was made to sacrifice the lives of their loved ones without admitting it. While the negotiation team only received a mandate to passively listen, hostages are raped, and men massively abused.”

“If the prime minister and some members of the cabinet think of abandoning hostages to death in agony and indifference, they will meet millions of Israelis who understand that tomorrow they and their children will be abandoned again by the same people,” the statement read.

The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) in response stated that negotiations would only continue if the Hamas terror organization dropped its “delusional demands.”

“As of now, we have freed 112 of our hostages in a combination of strong military pressure and tough negotiations. This is also the key to freeing more of our hostages: Strong military pressure and very tough negotiations,” Netanyahu said.

Soon after, the PMO released another statement stressing that “Israel did not receive in Cairo any new proposal of Hamas on the release of our hostages… A change in Hamas’s positions will allow the negotiations to advance.”

According to Israeli media reports, Netanyahu’s War Cabinet ministers Benny Gantz and Gadi Eisenkot, were fuming after realizing Netanyahu had made the decision not to send another negotiating team to Cairo without their input, reportedly suspicious that the prime minister intended to isolate them politically.

The Israeli delegation sent to Cairo returned late Tuesday evening without any breakthrough in the stalled talks.

Sources close to the prime minister said Netanyahu had made the decision because there was no policy change to his earlier stance that Hamas’ demands were “delusional” and not worth negotiating over, according to local Channel 12 news.

However, security sources told Channel 12 that the negotiations should have been continued and raised concerns that the prime minister is "derailing the move due to extraneous considerations.”

After Hamas had announced its reply to the deal proposal worked out in Paris several weeks ago, Netanyahu immediately rejected the terror group’s response.

Hamas demanded an immediate, permanent ceasefire, the withdrawal of Israeli troops from the entire Gaza Strip, and the release of around 1,500 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the 132 remaining Israeli hostages.

Before an Israeli delegation was sent to continue the negotiations in Cairo this week, Israeli news outlets reported that a new proposal had been suggested by the Mossad and Shin Bet but was dismissed by Netanyahu, who instructed the delegation “only to listen.”

In a possible move to signal readiness to remain in the government despite Netanyahu’s actions, sources close to Gantz told Channel 12 on Wednesday that he and Eisenkot were “updated during the past day by the professional officials responsible for the hostage issue and are deeply familiar with the ongoing discourse.”

“Tomorrow the War Cabinet will be convened, where they will exercise their national responsibility regarding the hostages, as well as the other challenges facing the State of Israel.”

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

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