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Is the US trying to force Israel into a permanent ceasefire?

WSJ report casts doubt on US motivations for hostage deal

Israelis block the entrance to Ashdod port during a protest against aid trucks entering the Gaza Strip without a hostage deal, in Ashdod, southern Israel, Feb. 1, 2024. (Photo: Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)

U.S. mediators are reportedly pushing for a longer ceasefire that could “stall Israel’s military momentum” according to a report in The Wall Street Journal. 

Anonymous sources told the WSJ that CIA Director William Burns and the U.S. team involved in the negotiations between Israel and Hamas said it would be difficult for Israel to resume fighting in Gaza at its current intensity, after a long ceasefire.

In addition, once the hostage release deal is completed, Israel will consider moving to the stage of “more limited operations, including regarding airstrikes in Gaza.” 

Arab officials told the WSJ that a deal is not imminent because of significant remaining gaps, however, if the differences are overcome, a deal could be announced within 10 days. 

Hamas has allegedly not retreated from its demand for an unconditional ceasefire and the release of all imprisoned Palestinian terrorists in an “all for all” exchange. 

Senior Hamas official abroad Ali Baraka said, “Our principles are a [comprehensive] ceasefire, the opening of the Rafah crossing, and an Arab-international commitment to rehabilitating the Gaza Strip and releasing prisoners in an 'all for all' framework.”

Baraka also said that Hamas senior leader Ismail Haniyeh, who is expected to arrive in Cairo for negotiations, would “respond on behalf of the factions, not just Hamas.” 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appeared to push back against the U.S. interest in forcing a long-term or permanent ceasefire. 

On Wednesday evening, Netanyahu said, “We are working to achieve another outline for the release of our captives, but I emphasize: not at any price. I have red lines - we will not end the war, we will not remove the IDF from the Gaza Strip and we will not release thousands of terrorists.” 

The prime minister further stated that he would not place the goal of releasing the captives above the other goals.

“We are working on all three of them together and we will not give up on any of them,” Netanyahu said.

Hamas officials denied reports that a hostage release deal is almost complete and could be announced as early as this coming weekend. 

Osama Hamdan, a senior Hamas official in Lebanon, stated, “There is no truth in the report of a ceasefire announcement on Saturday. We have substantive comments regarding the proposal that has been forwarded to us.” 

Meanwhile, Ali Baraka, another senior Hamas official who lives abroad, told Lebanon's Al-Mayadeen TV: “We are now studying the proposals we received at the Paris summit. We will consult with our allies, friends, and other factions in the resistance. In a few days, less than a week, we will make a decision.” 

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

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