Hamas suspends hostage and ceasefire negotiations, demands more aid

Netanyahu declared that the best way to free the hostages was through ‘military pressure and strong negotiations.’

By Vered Weiss, World Israel News

Hamas announced it was suspending all hostage release and ceasefire negotiations until they receive more humanitarian aid, according to Al Jazeera. 

On Friday, a Saudi media report indicated that Hamas turned down an Israeli offer to free 1,500 Palestinian prisoners for the return of all of the hostages into Israel.

Hamas had previously asked for the release of 5,000 Palestinian prisoners, including those serving life sentences for murdering Israelis.

The terror group also demanded a complete and permanent ceasefire and a withdrawal of all IDF troops from the Gaza Strip in return for hostages, demands which Prime Minister Netanyahu called “delusional.”

In a press conference on Saturday night, Prime Minister Netanyahu reaffirmed his commitment to freeing the hostages and said the best way to accomplish this was through “military pressure and strong negotiations.”

Netanyahu said he would consider a hostage deal with Hamas if they stepped back from their “delusional” demands that would spell defeat for Israel and an abandonment of their military goals.

Although Israel sent a delegation to Cairo to discuss a hostage release agreement, Netanyahu said Israel didn’t send a follow-up delegation, because there was no change in Hamas’s extreme demands.

“There is no point in going there until we see a change,” he said.

This is a negotiation, not a “give and give” situation, Netanyahu added.

On Thursday evening, US President Biden spoke with optimism about a hostage deal and said that negotiations were taking place.

Biden said it was his “hope and expectation” that a hostage deal would be reached and the American hostages would be brought home.”

“The deal is being negotiated now and we’re going to see where that takes us,” Biden said.

However, Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed Thani told the Munich Security Conference on Saturday that although “We made some good progress in the last few weeks in the negotiations,” the last few days have “not been promising.”

Thani added that “time is not in our favor” particularly with the month of Ramadan which is “ahead of us” and a planned Israeli military operation in Rafah.

However, Thani said,“ We believe that if we can reach an agreement on the humanitarian side of the agreement I do not think, the numbers will remain an obstacle.”

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In that case, Thani said “I believe that we can see a deal happening very soon.”