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Negotiations between Israel and Hamas Reach Impasse

WorldNegotiations between Israel and Hamas Reach Impasse

Efforts to broker a ceasefire and secure the release of hostages between Israel and Hamas have hit a roadblock, as mediators struggle to bridge remaining gaps and a Hamas delegation exits talks in Cairo, according to senior Hamas officials and other sources familiar with the discussions. An Israeli official also confirmed that negotiations had stalled, describing the situation as a “crisis.”

While months of negotiations have yielded little progress, recent signs indicated the two sides were nearing an agreement. Israel had softened some longstanding demands, and a top Hamas official expressed optimism about the latest Israeli offer. However, over the weekend, setbacks emerged, leaving Palestinians in Gaza facing continued hardship and families of hostages awaiting their loved ones’ release.

The primary obstacle in the talks centered on the duration of a ceasefire, with Hamas insisting on a permanent halt to hostilities while Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed openness to only a temporary cessation of fighting. Hamas placed blame for the lack of progress on Netanyahu, who reiterated his intention to launch a ground offensive in Rafah, the southernmost town in Gaza, with or without an agreement.

“We were very close, but Netanyahu’s narrow-mindedness aborted an agreement,” said Mousa Abu Marzouk, a senior Hamas official.

Netanyahu’s repeated threats of military action in Rafah prompted Hamas to harden its demands, seeking assurances that Israeli forces would not enter the city. Hamas now seeks further guarantees that Israel would fully implement any agreement and not resume fighting afterward.

Amid the impasse, Hamas fired approximately ten rockets from the Rafah area, killing three Israeli soldiers near the Kerem Shalom crossing. Such rocket attacks have been rare in recent months, and Israel responded with airstrikes targeting the launch sites.

While there are claims of an impasse, two US officials suggested that parties were still reviewing the details of recent proposals, pushing back against the notion that talks had reached a deadlock.

Netanyahu and the US have accused Hamas of obstructing an agreement, with Netanyahu emphasizing that he would not agree to a complete withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza and an end to the conflict. He argued that such concessions would enable Hamas to rearm and threaten Israel’s security.

The latest round of negotiations saw no Israeli delegation in Cairo, as Israel sought a written response from Hamas before sending one. However, Hamas did not provide the requested response, leading to further complications.

Hamas desired Israel’s presence in Cairo to address “vague” points in the latest Israeli proposal through mediators, including clarifying the duration of a ceasefire.

Meanwhile, a technical team from the Qatari foreign ministry departed Cairo on Sunday, and CIA Director Bill Burns met with Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani in Doha to discuss restarting the talks.

On Monday, Hamas’s political leadership plans to convene in Doha to review the Cairo negotiations, intending to continue engaging in talks with a positive outlook. While reports suggest a Hamas delegation may return to Cairo on Tuesday, the group has yet to make a decision.

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