Israelis leave hostage talks after ‘ridiculous answer’ by Hamas to US proposal

Hamas’ stiffened demands are a direct result of the UNSC resolution, and Israel cannot give in to its delusions, said the Prime Minister’s Office.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Israel’s hostage negotiators decided to leave Qatar Tuesday after hearing Hamas’ stiffened response to the newest American proposal on the table.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “had drawn the red lines within which it was clear when it was impossible to move forward. It was therefore decided that the team would return to Israel,” said an Israeli official.

The negotiators, headed by Mossad chief David Barnea and including top officials of the Shabak and military Intelligence, had agreed to offer a 6-week ceasefire and the release of 700-800 Palestinian terrorists in exchange for 40 hostages who were female, children, older than 60, ailing, or wounded.

The list of prisoners also reportedly included many serving life sentences for attacking and murdering Israelis.

Other Israeli concessions included an IDF withdrawal from Gaza’s two main roads, allowing displaced Gazans to return north and humanitarian aid to enter freely.

“Hamas came back with a ridiculous answer that doesn’t relate at all to the suggested American compromise, with zero progress on the issue,” a senior Israeli official said. “They’ve climbed to the highest branches and demanded the release of many prisoners with blood on their hands and … the right to determine who those prisoners will be.”

“By contrast, Israel has come a long way and in some categories agreed to double the numbers it is willing to release,” the official added.

The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) blamed the passage Monday of a United Nations Security Council resolution demanding an immediate ceasefire that was not linked to the hostages’ release for Hamas’ stance.

“Hamas’ position clearly proves that Hamas is not interested in the continuation of negotiations for a deal, and is an unfortunate testament to the damage of the Security Council’s decision,” it said in a statement.

“Israel will not give in to Hamas’ delusional demands and will continue to act to achieve all the war’s goals,” the Office added.

The U.S. abstained from the UNSC vote, allowing it to pass. Netanyahu’s office had said in response that de-linking the two issues “hurts the war effort and the effort to release the hostages because it gives Hamas hope that international pressure will allow them to get a ceasefire without releasing our hostages.”

A spokesman for the Qatari foreign ministry insisted that “the Israeli delegation did not withdraw.”

“The technical discussions are continuing between the sides within the framework of the negotiations,” said Majed al-Ansari. “There is no set time frame for the talks, but we are continuing with our partners in mediation efforts. I cannot comment on the progress of the talks.”

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