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Netanyahu gov’t will not conclude prisoner swap deal: negotiator says

May 28, 2024 at 10:59 am

Israelis continue to demonstrate in the Gaza Strip demanding a cease-fire, a prisoner swap deal and the resignation of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s government, in Tel Aviv, Israel on May 25, 2024 [Mostafa Alkharouf/Anadolu Agency]

General Nitzan Alon, the Israeli army’s negotiator, has stressed that no prisoner exchange agreement would be reached as long as the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is still in office, Israel’s Channel 12 reported.

“We are desperate. There will be no deal with this government,” Alon reportedly said during a closed meeting held last week with army officers in charge of following up with the families of prisoners of war held in Gaza.

“The deal I am pushing for will include the gradual return of all the abductees. Hamas insisted that this include stopping the fighting, and I informed [Netanyahu] that it is possible to return to fighting at any moment,” he added, according to the same source.

In response to the reports, the families of Israeli hostages have protested near the Defence Ministry headquarters in Tel Aviv and issued a statement saying: “It is clear to everyone that we will not see the kidnapped back home if we do not end the war, but the government is not interested in returning them and continues the war without realistic goals.”

“Members of the government know what is required and they categorically reject it. If they cannot return our loved ones home after abandoning them on October 7, then let them announce it and say so. It seems that there is no choice but to change the government in order to welcome our loved ones home again.”

In turn, an Israeli army spokesman said Alon is “working under the guidance of the political level to return the kidnapped people,” adding that his statements “were taken out of context.”

Analysts have warned that Netanyahu does not want the war on Gaza to end as he risks facing charges of corruption in Israel and being removed from office. While right-wing members of his coalition have threatened to pull out of a government if a ceasefire agreement is reached, thud collapsing his administration.

READ: Netanyahu ‘rejected’ proposals to resume prisoner swap talks