Israel Backing Off Hostage Talks Unless Hamas Drops ‘Delusional’ Demands: Official

Israel Backing Off Hostage Talks Unless Hamas Drops ‘Delusional’ Demands: Official

Feb. 9, 2024, 7:27 a.m.

Israeli source says Jerusalem won’t offer counter-proposal, instead seeking to put pressure on Qatar via the US to soften terror group’s terms; targeted raids planned for Rafah

Israel is working to pressure Hamas to withdraw its “delusional” terms for a potential hostage release deal, and is not about to offer new terms, an Israeli official told The Times of Israel on Thursday.

Hamas this week proposed a ceasefire plan that would see a four-and-a-half-month truce during which hostages would be freed in three stages, and which would lead to an end to the war, in response to a proposed outline sent last week by Qatari and Egyptian mediators and backed by the United States and Israel.

The Hamas proposal would have seen Israeli troops withdraw from Gaza with the terror group still intact ruling the Strip, as well as the release of 1,500 prisoners from Israeli jails, a third of whom are serving life sentences.

“The main target now is to create pressure from the Americans and other countries on Qatar, and from there on Hamas, in addition to the military pressure, to bring them down from their delusional demands,” said the official.

The US, along with mediators Egypt and Qatar, has continued to push for a hostage release agreement that would be accompanied by a truce, with a Hamas delegation arriving in Cairo Thursday for negotiations. Egypt pressured Israel to also send representatives but Jerusalem refused to do so, according to Channel 12 news.

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