Gaza ceasefire chances slim as Cairo talks end

Gaza ceasefire chances slim as Cairo talks end

CAIRO: Prospects for a Gaza ceasefire appeared slim on Sunday as Hamas reiterated its demand for an end to the attacks in exchange for the freeing of hostages, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu flatly ruled that out, with the two sides blaming each other for the impasse.

In their second round of truce talks with Egyptian and Qatari mediators that ended here in Cairo on Sunday, Hamas negotiators maintained their stance that any truce agreement must end the war.

A Hamas official told AFP that the group’s negotiators in Cairo were leaving for Doha on Sunday after talks ended in the Egyptian capital, part of mediation efforts towards a truce in Gaza. On the other hand, CIA director Bill Burns is also expected in Doha, where he would meet with Qatar’s prime minister to discuss mediation in the Gaza war, a source with knowledge of the talks disclosed.

While French President Emmanuel Macron earlier urged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a telephone talk to reach a deal in negotiations with the Palestinian group on ceasefire, the latter did not show willingness. Netanyahu reiterated Israel’s aim since the start of the war nearly seven months ago: to disarm and dismantle Hamas for good.

Israeli police raid Al Jazeera office after shutdown order; CIA, Hamas officials due

The Israeli prime minister said Tel Aviv was willing to only “pause” fighting in Gaza in order to secure the release of Israeli prisoners still being held by Hamas, believed to number more than 130. He blamed Hamas for remaining entrenched in its extreme positions.

Reacting to Netanyahu’s statement, Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh said the group was still keen on reaching a comprehensive ceasefire that ends the Israeli aggression, guarantees Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza, and achieves a serious deal to free Israeli prisoners in exchange for the release of Palestinian prisoners. He also blamed Netanyahu for the continuation of the aggression and the expansion of the circle of conflict, and sabotaging the efforts made through the mediators and various parties.

More than 250 Hezbollah members and 75 civilians have been killed in Israeli strikes on Lebanon since October 7 Hamas attack on Israel, security sources there say. In Israel, missile fire coming from Lebanon has killed around a dozen Israeli troops and several civilians, Israeli sources say.

More than 34,600 Palestinians have been killed, 29 of them in the past 24 hours, and more than 77,000 have been wounded in Israel’s assault, according to Gaza’s health ministry.

Al Jazeera shutdown

Israeli police raided a Jerusalem hotel room used by Al Jazeera as its de facto office on Sunday following a government decision to shut down the Qatari-owned TV station’s local operations, an Israeli official and an Al Jazeera source said.

Video circulated online showed plainclothes officers dismantling camera equipment in a hotel room. The Al Jazeera source said the hotel was in East Jerusalem.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet shut down the network for as long as the war in Gaza continues, claiming “Qatari television network threatens national security”.

Al Jazeera called the move a criminal action and rejected the accusation the network threatened Israeli security as a dangerous and ridiculous lie that puts its journalists at risk. It said that it reserved the right to pursue every legal step.

The network has been critical of Israel’s military operation in Gaza.

Published in Dawn, May 6th, 2024


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