Israel holds back delegation to Cairo until Hamas agrees to terms of latest hostage deal – report

Although there is some indication Hamas has dropped the ceasefire requirement, Israeli officials speculated that Egyptian officials may be placing an overly positive spin on negotiations to delay the IDF’s Rafah operation.

By Vered Weiss, World Israel News

Israeli Prime Minister  Benjamin Netanyahu has held back a delegation from going to Cairo for hostage negotiations on Saturday until Hamas indicates they are ready to agree to the current proposal, KAN news reports.

The reason Netanyahu held back the delegation, according to an Israeli official, was that he refused to agree to any hostage deal that would require Israel to agree to a permanent ceasefire, a condition Hamas has insisted on repeatedly.

Netanyahu has emphasized that even if the United States pushes for Israel to accept such a proposal, Israel won’t agree.

Currently, Israel is the only party absent from the negotiations in Cairo, which currently includes Egyptian, US, Qatari, and Hamas officials.

Netanyahu has indicated, according to the report, that if Hamas says it is willing to negotiate the current agreement, the Israeli delegation will be given the green light to make the trip to Cairo.

An Israeli official commented,” We will not want to make a commitment before we see if Hamas is flexible.”

Read  Biden tells ABC News that Netanyahu agreed 'publicly' to the ceasefire deal

Another Israeli official added the delegation would go to Cairo only if it saw “positive movement” regarding the deal, however, the negotiation is expected to be “long and tough.”

Israeli officials said there is some indication Hamas has dropped its demand to end the war in the first phase of the deal.

However, the officials added that Egyptian sources may be trying to sound overly confident about a deal to delay the start of the operation in Rafah.

The current hostage deal would begin with a 40-day pause in fighting and the release of 33 female, elderly male, children, and ill or wounded hostages in exchange for Palestinian prisoners. Later phases involve the release of male hostages and a ceasefire.

Last week, some Hamas sources indicated that they were ready to reject the newest hostage deal.

Hamas official Osama Hamdan told Hezbollah-affiliated Al-Manar TV, “Our position on the current negotiating paper is negative.”

Hamas’s press office clarified, “The negative position does not mean negotiations have stopped. There is a back-and-forth issue.”