Israel has its limits in hostage talks, Netanyahu says, rejecting deal ‘at any price’

Israel’s prime minister hints Hamas demands could be too steep, saying the country ‘will not agree to every deal at any price.’

By David Rosenberg, World Israel News

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that there are limits to how much Israel is willing to concede in order to achieve a deal with Hamas for the return of more than 100 hostages still held in the Gaza Strip, as the terror group continues to study a proposed agreement.

Speaking at the opening of the weekly cabinet meeting at IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv Sunday, Netanyahu noted that Israel is continuing to pursue a hostage deal with Hamas – via the U.S., Qatar, and Egypt as brokers – while pushing back on threats from members of his own coalition to topple the government if a deal is reached under which thousands of jailed terrorists would be released.

“The efforts to free the hostages are continuing at all times. As I also emphasized in the Security Cabinet – we will not agree to every deal, and not at any price.”

“Many things that are being said in the media, as if we had agreed to them, such as regarding the release of terrorists, we will simply not agree to them.”

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Under a framework proposed at Paris last Sunday, the current deal under consideration would see all 109 of the Israeli hostages who are still believed to be alive returned in a staged exchange.

During an initial six-week period, civilians, starting with women, children, the elderly, and the wounded, would be returned from Gaza, in exchange for the early release of three jailed terrorists for every Israeli captive.

In addition, Israel would agree to significantly increase the amount of aid entering the Gaza Strip.

In the later stages of the deal, Israel would release as many as 150 jailed terrorists per captive, to secure the release of female soldiers held in Gaza.

National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir threatened last week to topple the government if Israel agreed to a deal which would entail the release of “thousands of terrorists.”

Prime Minister Netanyahu also appeared to chide Ben-Gvir’s comments to The Wall Street Journal, published in a report early Sunday morning shortly before the cabinet meeting, regarding Israel’s relations with the Biden administration.

“I am not in need of any assistance in navigating our relations with the US and the international community while steadfastly upholding our national interests,” Netanyahu said. “Thank God, I have been doing this for a few years.”

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The Israeli premier also discussed his foreign policy doctrine regarding foreign pressure, positioning himself as a centrist who knows “how to navigate” relations with world powers pressuring Israel into concessions.

“I would like to tell you something, from my own experience: There are those who say ‘Yes’ to everything, even when one must say ‘No.’ While they are applauded by the international community, they endanger our national security.”

“And there are those who say ‘No’ to everything. While they are applauded at home, they also endanger vital interests. I would like to tell you something from my experience: Wisdom is knowing how to navigate – to say ‘Yes’ when it is possible and to say ‘No’ when it is necessary.”

“As a sovereign state that is fighting for its existence and its future, we make our own decisions, even in those instances where there is no agreement with our American friends.”