Israeli Finance Minister says Hamas chief sabotaging hostage deal

Smotrich’s tweet follows mass protests on Saturday night blaming Netanyahu’s government for the failure in hostage deal negotiations. 

By Vered Weiss, World Israel News

Following mass protests on Saturday night across the country blaming the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the failure to secure a hostage release deal, Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich said only October 7th mastermind Yahya Sinwar is responsible for the impasse.

In a post on X, Smotrich warned against giving in to public pressure and caving to Hamas’s demands which Netanyahu once referred to as “delusional.”

Smotrich wrote, “The demand for flexible positions on our part in the negotiations – causes Sinwar to harden positions even more.”

He added, “I call on the Prime Minister to stand firm in the face of irresponsible pressures that endanger the State of Israel and harm the goals of the war.”

Smotrich explained, “All the military and political pressure in Israel and in the world should be directed exclusively towards him (Sinwar).”

“Anything else harms the chance of returning them safely and quickly home and our emerging victorious in the war,” he concluded.

Earlier this month, Israel agreed to a 6-week pause in fighting that would coincide with the release of 35 to 40 Israeli hostages in exchange for hundreds of Palestinian prisoners and permission for the return of 2,000 Palestinians to northern Gaza.

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Despite hopes of US, Egyptian and Qatari delegates that Hamas would agree to the deal, the terror group reverted to its previous demand that no Israelis would be freed without a permanent ceasefire and a complete withdrawal of IDF troops from the Gaza Strip, a move that Netanyahu said would interfere with Israel’s goal of “total victory.”

The focus on Yahya Sinwar as the main obstacle is consistent with earlier reports by Egyptian sources that Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh considered agreeing to the deal, but Sinwar nixed the plan.

Although Israeli delegates are returning to Doha for another round of negotiations, Hussam Badran told Al Jazeera on Sunday that there will be no representatives from the terror organization attending.

Badran said, “Hamas’s position remains stable and there is no possibility of concessions on the issues: the end of the war, the withdrawal of the IDF from the Strip, the return of the displaced to their homes, the transfer of aid and the rehabilitation of the Strip.”