New Telegraph

Netanyahu Rejects Hamas Conditions For Hostage Release

BERLIN, GERMANY – MARCH 16: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz (not pictured) speak to the media following talks at the Chancellery on March 16, 2023 in Berlin, Germany. Netanyahu’s one-day visit to Berlin is being accompanied by protests, including both by people angry over Israel’s policies towards Palestinians as well as those critical of possible new legislation in Israel supported by Netanyahu that would undermine the independence and the power of Israel’s Supreme Court, effectively curtailing democracy in Israel. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday turned down Hamas’ demands for a cease-fire and hostage relief that included Israel’s total exit from Gaza and Hamas’ continued rule over the territory.

As Israeli planes resumed bombing Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, senior Hamas official, Sami Abu Zuhri told reporters that the Israeli leader’s refusal to end the military offensive in Gaza “means there is no chance for the return of the (Israeli) captives.”

“In exchange for the release of our hostages, Hamas demands the end of the war, the withdrawal of our forces from Gaza, the release of all the murderers and rapists,” Netanyahu said in a statement. “And leaving Hamas intact.”

“I reject outright the terms of surrender of the monsters of Hamas,” Netanyahu said.

A deal brokered in late November by the United States, Qatar and Egypt saw the release of more than 100 of the estimated 240 hostages who were taken captive in Gaza during an attack by Hamas militants on Oct. 7, in exchange for the release of 240 Palestinians held in Israeli prisons.

Since that deal ended Netanyahu has faced mounting pressure to secure the release of the 136 hostages who remain in captivity.

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Netanyahu also took a stronger line on the issue of Palestinian statehood than previously.

“I will not compromise on full Israeli security control of all territory west of the Jordan River,” he said.

U.S. President Joe Biden on Friday said he spoke with Netanyahu about possible solutions for the creation of an independent Palestinian state, suggesting one path could involve a non-militarized government.

The two men disagree on the idea of the Palestinians having their own state, which Biden has supported as a means of achieving lasting peace. Netanyahu made an appearance on Saturday to refute Biden’s comments regarding Palestinian independence after the fight against Hamas in Gaza concludes.

In the statement on Sunday, Netanyahu repeated that he would insist upon “full Israeli security control over all the territory west of Jordan.”

Netanyahu said that he faced down “international and internal pressures,” to change this position.

“My insistence is what prevented for years the establishment of a Palestinian state that would have posed an existential danger to Israel,” Netanyahu said.

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