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Gaza deal must allow Israel to keep fighting – Netanyahu

The Israeli prime minister’s statement comes after Hamas accepted a key part of a ceasefire proposal

Any potential ceasefire deal in Gaza must allow Israel to resume fighting until all of its war objectives are met, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday. One of the main goals repeatedly voiced by the PM is the complete elimination of the Hamas militant group.

Netanyahu’s statement comes after Hamas approved a US proposal for a phased ceasefire deal, dropping a key demand for Israel to first commit to a permanent ceasefire before signing the deal, according to a Reuters source.

Hamas expects to end hostilities through talks during the first six-week phase of the deal aimed at settling the conflict in Gaza, the outlet said.

However, the Palestinian militant group wants written guarantees from international mediators that Israel will continue to negotiate a permanent ceasefire when the first phase of the deal comes into effect. The hostage issue will also be addressed after the first phase is implemented.

Hamas officials have said they are awaiting Israel’s response to the latest proposal. Netanyahu insisted on Sunday, however, that any deal must “allow Israel to go back to fighting until all the goals of the war are achieved.”

Read more

Hamas relaxes Gaza peace deal demands – Reuters

According to media reports, Netanyahu was scheduled to hold consultations on the next steps, but his latest statement has hindered the deal’s momentum.

“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,” Netanyahu insisted.

Talks mediated by Qatar, Egypt and the US have so far failed to secure a truce in Gaza or the release of hostages since a weeklong ceasefire in November resulting in the freeing of 105 hostages from Gaza and 240 Palestinian prisoners.

Israel began its operation in Gaza in response to a cross-border incursion by Hamas last October in which at least 1,200 people were killed and 250 taken hostage. Some 116 captives are believed to be still held in Gaza.

Over 38,000 people have been killed so far and more than 87,000 others have been wounded in Israeli attacks on the Palestinian enclave, according to Gaza’s health ministry.

 

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