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Under any hostage deal, Israel will resume fighting until war goals are achieved, Netanyahu declares

US and Israeli intel heads to advance talks with mediators in Qatar

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a cabinet meeting, June 30, 2024 (Photo: Screenshot/GPO)

Amid the re-energized negotiations for a truce and a hostage deal between the Hamas terrorists and Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday reiterated that any deal approved by Israel would allow it to return to fighting until Hamas was destroyed.

The prime minister’s statement came just before a planned situational assessment to discuss the hostage deal before again sending Israel’s negotiating team to Qatar.

“The Prime Minister's firm stand against the attempt to stop the IDF operation in Rafah is what made Hamas enter into negotiations,” the statement read, outlining four principles Israel would continue to insist upon during the talks:

“Any deal will allow Israel to resume fighting until all the objectives of the war have been achieved; There will be no smuggling of weapons to Hamas from Egypt to the Gaza border; There will be no return of thousands of armed terrorists to the northern Gaza Strip; Israel will maximize the number of living hostages who will be released from Hamas captivity.”

“The plan that has been agreed to by Israel and which has been welcomed by President Biden will allow Israel to return hostages without infringing on the other objectives of the war,” the statement concluded.

The indirect negotiations with Hamas are set to continue this week after a successful meeting with Israel’s Mossad Director David Barnea in Qatar last Friday.

Ynet News cited an Egyptian report that an Israeli negotiating team was expected in Cairo on Sunday night, while Barnea plans to return to Doha and meet with CIA Chief William Burns, Egyptian Intel Chief Abbas Kamal and Qatari Prime Minister Muhammad al-Thani on Wednesday.

Hamas kickstarted the last round of negotiations by announcing it had dropped its demand for Israel to commit to an end of the war before the start of the hostage deal negotiations, a condition that Israel has consistently rejected.

However, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) stressed in a Friday statement: “It should be emphasized that there are still gaps between the sides.”

On Sunday, the French AFP cited a Hamas official reiterating that the terror group was ready for discussions without a “complete and permanent ceasefire.” The official noted that the change of mind occurred because "[Qatari] mediators pledged that as long as the prisoner negotiations continued, the ceasefire would continue."

Despite Israel no longer being required to end the war as a precondition for initiating the first stage of the deal, Hamas reportedly still insisted that Israel not be allowed to resume active fighting as long as negotiations continue through the following two stages.

Article 14 of the Israeli/American proposal states that if the parties do not reach an agreement regarding the second and third stages during the initial 42-day-long stage of the ceasefire, they will continue to negotiate and not return to fighting.

However, the article implies that the truce is tied to the continuation of the talks – meaning once they break down, fighting can be resumed without breaking the statutes of the deal.

Hamas is now reportedly demanding that the mediators guarantee negotiations continue without the possibility of stopping until an agreement is reached for the second and third phases.

An informed source spoke with Ynet regarding the two main issues Israel is currently grappling with.

“The first is Prime Minister Netanyahu’s concern, which has already been expressed many times, that Israel intends to continue fighting after the end of the first ceasefire, and in order to do so, or at least to calm his coalition partners that he intends to do so, he must have an exit point [from the deal] for Israel.”

However, there the second major Israeli concern wasn’t politically motivated, the source added.

“If Israel agrees to the change that Hamas made in the text accepted by the UN, then in practice, the agreement states that after 42 days - if no agreement is reached - the temporary ceasefire will become one that actually lasts until the deal is reached, no matter how long it takes. A deal that includes the permanent ceasefire.”

“In other words, Israel binds itself to an absolute commitment to continue the negotiations, until a deal is reached… That is, an agreement to end the war from the moment the agreement on the first stage enters into force. Hamas in this situation will be able to continue the negotiations as long as it wants, to keep the soldiers as a guarantee for the survival of its rule and a permanent human shield to prevent the elimination of its leaders.”

“Thus, Israel will lose the last real lever it still has: A return to fighting if Hamas does not reach an agreement,” the source said.

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

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