Netanyahu tries to sabotage Gaza ceasefire proposal by issuing new demands: Israeli media

Yasmine Osama Farag , Monday 8 Jul 2024

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been accused of attempting to undermine a Gaza ceasefire proposal by introducing new demands after initially accepting the plan presented by US President Joe Biden on 31 May, according to Israeli media.

A child walks past destroyed vehicles and buildings along a street in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on July 8, 2024.AFP


Ahead of the Israeli negotiating team’s departure for further ceasefire talks in Cairo, Netanyahu presented a list of what he said were non-negotiable Israeli demands, sparking anger both in Israel and among mediators, with some accusing him of attempting to sabotage hard-won progress, the Times of Israel reported.

The renewed negotiations in both Egypt and Qatar come after Egyptian officials and representatives of Hamas said the Palestinian group had dropped a key demand that Israel commit to a definitive end to the war before any pause in hostilities, Reuters and the Associated Press reported.

Two Hamas officials told Reuters they were now waiting for a response from Israel.

However, the chief of the Mossad foreign intelligence service David Barnea, who was dispatched over the weekend to Qatar, where talks are being held, was reported to have provided the mediators with a list of new reservations, according to Israeli media.

The Haaretz newspaper cited a source familiar with the details as saying that Israel’s new demands were expected to delay negotiations and that it was not clear whether Hamas would accede to them.

“Hamas has already agreed to the latest position presented by Israel,” the source told Haaretz.

“But in Friday’s meeting, Israel presented some new points it demands that Hamas accept.”

Negotiations with Hamas were expected to last “at least three weeks” before the deal could be carried out, Haaretz reported.

The list of four demands presented Sunday by Netanyahu’s office declared, first, that any potential deal must “allow Israel to return and fight until all the goals of the war are achieved.”

In addition, the statement read, it must be ensured that the deal will prevent Hamas from smuggling arms, and nor can it allow for “the return of thousands of armed terrorists to the north of the Gaza Strip."

Finally, the statement added, “Israel will maximize the number of live abductees that are released from Hamas captivity.”

Political survival

Many Israelis accuse Netanyahu, Israel's longest-serving prime minister, of not doing more to secure a truce as a matter of political survival.

Two far-right members of his cabinet have threatened to resign if a deal was struck.

“Netanyahu pretends that he wants a deal, but is working to torpedo it,” an anonymous security official told Israeli Channel 12. “He’s dragging out the process, trying to stretch time until his speech in Congress on July 24 and then the Knesset recess.”

A second source questioned Netanyahu’s desire to “emphasize the gaps” in the negotiations “just before the departure of the delegation,” Channel 12 reported.

Netanyahu’s new demands were heavily criticized by the Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid, who said: “What good does this do? We are at a crucial moment in the negotiations, the lives of the hostages depend on this. Why make such taunting announcements? How does this help the process?”

Furthermore, thousands of Israeli protesters blocked highways across the country Sunday, calling on Netanyahu to step down and pushing for a ceasefire to bring back scores of Israeli captives.

Four-way meeting

An official with knowledge of the mediation on Sunday said US Central Intelligence Agency director William Burns was expected to visit Qatar this week. An Egyptian source said he would be making a stop in Cairo, according to the Times of Israel.

During his visit to Doha, Burns will reportedly hold a four-way meeting with Barnea, Egyptian intelligence head Abbas Kamel, and Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani.

Turkey is also expected to step up its efforts to push for a deal, a Hamas official told AFP but did not elaborate on what that would entail.



Short link: