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Netanyahu Asserts Hostage Deal Must Facilitate Israel’s War Objectives

Israel outlines strict conditions in ceasefire negotiations with Hamas.

In a significant statement on Sunday night, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office clarified Israel’s position on the ongoing ceasefire negotiations with Hamas in Gaza. The office emphasized that any agreement must allow Israel to achieve its war objectives while securing the return of hostages.

The statement highlighted Netanyahu's role in pressuring Hamas back to the negotiating table. “The prime minister’s steadfast position against halting the IDF’s actions in Rafah has led Hamas to enter negotiations,” it asserted.

Israel’s red lines for a ceasefire include the ability to resume fighting until all objectives are met, ending arms smuggling into Gaza, preventing the return of terrorists to Gaza’s north, and maximizing the number of hostages released.

Mossad Director David Barnea recently traveled to Doha to advance talks. Following his visit, Netanyahu's office confirmed that a team would continue negotiations this week. Despite progress, the PMO cautioned that gaps remain between the sides.

Key figures in the negotiations include CIA Director William Burns, Egyptian intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Abbas Kamel, and Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, who will meet in Doha this week.

The phased ceasefire outline, proposed by U.S. President Joe Biden, suggests a six-week truce with an exchange of hostages and terrorists. Subsequent phases would involve the release of remaining hostages and the return of Israeli bodies for burial, followed by Gaza’s reconstruction.

Hamas has reportedly dropped its demand for an upfront end to the war but seeks written guarantees that negotiations will continue towards a permanent ceasefire. Mediators have provided verbal assurances that the war won’t resume during talks.

President Isaac Herzog marked nine months since the war's onset by calling for the immediate return of all 120 hostages still held in Gaza. He expressed solidarity with affected families and emphasized national support for a hostage deal.

Jonathan Dekel-Chen, father of a kidnapped Israeli, expressed cautious optimism. He stated, “We’ve been here before. I’ll save the optimism until a deal is done and the hostages are home.”

Among the 120 hostages, 116 were taken on October 7, including both living and deceased individuals. A senior Israeli official noted that ending the war as a precondition is impractical, as Hamas might exploit this to prolong negotiations indefinitely.

Israel remains firm in its stance: a ceasefire agreement must align with its strategic objectives, ensuring the safety and security of its citizens.

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