Ceasefire talks between Israel and Hamas stall again

The latest negotiations between Israel and Hamas reached an impasse on Sunday as mediators struggled to bridge the gap left behind, and a Hamas delegation stopped in Cairo, according to two senior Hamas officials and two officials familiar with the negotiations. We started with negotiations. Israeli officials also acknowledged that negotiations were stalled and said they were in “crisis.”

Negotiations aimed at achieving a ceasefire and the release of hostages have made little progress in recent months, but last week there were signs that the two sides were nearing a deal. Although Israel has withdrawn some of its long-standing demands, a senior Hamas official said the organization is considering the latest Israeli proposal in a “positive spirit.”

But the weekend’s setback means Palestinians living in dire conditions in Gaza will not experience any immediate reprieve, and families of hostages captured by militants will have to wait even longer for the release of their loved ones. It turns out.

The main obstacle to negotiations is the duration of the ceasefire, with Hamas demanding it be made permanent and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying he is open to only a temporary cessation of fighting.

Hamas blames the lack of progress on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who in recent days has vowed again that Israeli forces would invade Rafah, the southernmost town in the Gaza Strip, regardless of a deal.

“We were very close, but Prime Minister Netanyahu’s bigotry led to the deal being scrapped,” Moussa Abu Marzouk, a senior Hamas official, said in a telephone interview.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has for weeks announced his intention to launch a ground offensive targeting Rafah, where about 1 million Palestinians have fled. The Biden administration has been pressuring Israel to refrain from large-scale operations in the city.

The Israeli military said Hamas fired about 10 rockets from near the Rafah border crossing on Sunday, killing three soldiers near the Kerem Shalom crossing. Rocket attacks by Hamas have been relatively rare in recent months, and Israel said it responded with airstrikes targeting launch sites.

An Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Israel and Hamas had come close to an agreement a few days ago, but Netanyahu’s comments on Rafah forced Hamas to step up its demands to ensure victory for Israeli forces. He said that he no longer received any benefits. Please do not enter the city. The official said Hamas is now seeking further guarantees that Israel will only honor part of the deal and not resume fighting.

The official lamented that Hamas and Israel had shifted toward “playing the blame game.”

Two U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, rejected the idea that negotiations were stalled and suggested parties were still working out the details of the latest proposal.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the United States have maintained that Hamas is honoring the agreement. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that he does not agree to a complete withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza and an end to the war. He said acceding to these demands would allow Hamas to reestablish control over Gaza, rebuild military power and threaten communities across Israel.

“It is Hamas that is preventing the release of the hostages,” he said. “We are working in every possible way to free the hostages. This is our top priority.”

The Israeli delegation did not arrive in Cairo for the latest talks. Israeli officials said Israel asked Hamas for a written response to its latest proposal before sending the delegation, but the group never provided a response.

Abu Marzouk said Hamas wants Israel to attend talks in Cairo, where it will work through mediators to clarify “ambiguities” in the latest Israeli proposal, including the ceasefire period. He said that it should have been possible.

“The ceasefire needs to be permanent and fixed,” he said.

Abu Marzouk was the only official to speak about the talks and allow his name to be used. The others spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive topics or because they were not authorized to speak to the press.

Abu Marzouk said Hamas believed Netanyahu wanted an agreement allowing Israel to invade Rafah after the hostages were released.

“This is Prime Minister Netanyahu’s plan,” he said.

A technical team from Qatar’s foreign ministry also left the Egyptian capital on Sunday, according to two officials briefed on the talks. Central Intelligence Agency Director Bill Burns met with Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani in Doha on Sunday to discuss getting talks back on track, one of the officials said.

On Monday, Hamas’s political leadership will meet in Doha to discuss what happened in Cairo over the past two days, one senior Hamas official said. He said he planned to discuss the matter and continued to participate in negotiations “positively.” Anonymous.

Egypt’s state television station Al-Qahera News reported that a Hamas delegation would return to Cairo on Tuesday, but a senior Hamas official said the group had not yet made a decision.

peter baker and michael crowley contributed a report to this article.

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