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Israel’s Netanyahu blocks negotiators’ return to Egypt for Gaza hostage swap talks

February 14, 2024 at 6:30 pm

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) chairs a Cabinet meeting at the Kirya, in Tel Aviv on December 17, 2023 [MENAHEM KAHANA/POOL/AFP via Getty Images]

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu prevented his country’s delegation from returning to Egypt to attend a 4-day meeting for a proposed hostage swap deal with Hamas, according to local media on Wednesday, Anadolu Agency reports.

“Netanyahu did not allow the negotiating team to return to Egypt on Thursday to continue talks on a hostage deal,” Israeli Channel 12 reported.

“Netanyahu believes that Hamas must accept the terms set by Israel for making progress,” the broadcaster said.

Officials from Israel, Egypt, Qatar and the US held a meeting in Cairo on Tuesday to discuss a Gaza ceasefire and hostage-prisoner swap between Hamas and Israel.

“Hamas’ position has not changed, and it still insists on ending the war, which Israel has not accepted,” the Israeli public broadcaster KAN said, citing an unnamed Israeli official.

Last week, Hamas proposed a three-stage plan for a Gaza ceasefire that includes a 135-day pause in the fighting in return for the release of hostages, according to a Palestinian source.

Netanyahu, however, rejected Hamas’s offer for a ceasefire and vowed to continue his Gaza war until a “crushing victory” over the Palestinian group.

Israel believes that 134 Israelis are being held in Gaza after the Israeli army managed on Monday to free two hostages in Rafah city in the southern Gaza Strip.

The Israeli war on Gaza has pushed 85% of the territory’s population into internal displacement amid acute shortages of food, clean water and medicine, while 60% of the enclave’s infrastructure has been damaged or destroyed, according to the UN.

Israel stands accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice, which in an interim ruling this January ordered Tel Aviv to stop genocidal acts and take measures to guarantee that humanitarian assistance is provided to civilians in Gaza.

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