Netanyahu Rejects Hamas' 'Delusional' Ceasefire Demands

'We are on the way to an absolute victory,' he says
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 7, 2024 12:40 PM CST
Netanyahu Rejects Hamas' 'Delusional' Ceasefire Demands
Palestinians look at a residential house destroyed in an Israeli strike in Rafah, Gaza Strip, Monday, Feb. 5, 2024.   (AP Photo/Hatem Ali)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday rejected Hamas' terms for a ceasefire and hostage-release agreement, calling them "delusional," a position that complicates efforts to strike a deal between the sides. Netanyahu vowed to press ahead with Israel's war against Hamas, now in its fifth month, until achieving "absolute victory." Netanyahu made the comments shortly after meeting the visiting US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, who has been traveling the region in hopes of securing a ceasefire agreement, the AP reports.

"Surrendering to Hamas' delusional demands that we heard now not only won't lead to freeing the captives, it will just invite another massacre," Netanyahu said in a nationally televised evening news conference. "We are on the way to an absolute victory," Netanyahu said, adding that the operation would last months, not years. "There is no other solution." He ruled out any arrangement that leaves Hamas in full or partial control of Gaza. He also said that Israel is the "only power" capable of guaranteeing security in the long term. Earlier, Blinken said that "a lot of work" remains to bridge the gap between Israel and Hamas on terms for any deal. He was expected to hold his own news conference later Wednesday.

Hamas laid out a detailed, three-phase plan to unfold over 4.5 months, responding to a proposal drawn up by the United States, Israel, Qatar, and Egypt. The plan stipulates that all hostages would be released in exchange for hundreds of Palestinians imprisoned by Israel, including senior militants, and an end to the war. Israel has made destroying Hamas' governing and military abilities one of its wartime objectives, and Hamas' proposal would effectively leave it in power in Gaza and allow it to rebuild its military capabilities. President Biden said Hamas' demands are "a little over the top," but negotiations will continue. (More Israel-Hamas war stories.)

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