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Hamas chief says Israeli amendments on ceasefire proposal led to deadlock

Hamas chief says Israeli amendments on ceasefire proposal led to deadlock
Palestinian group Hamas' top leader, Ismail Haniyeh meets with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi (not pictured) in Tehran, Iran March 27, 2024.
PHOTO: Iran's Presidency/WANA (West Asia News Agency) via Reuters file

CAIRO — Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh blamed Israel on Wednesday (May 15) for a deadlock in Gaza ceasefire negotiations and reiterated key demands including that any agreement provide a framework for a permanent end to Israel's offensive in the enclave.

Earlier this month, the Palestinian group said it agreed to a truce proposal from Qatari and Egyptian mediators that Israel previously accepted.

Israel disputed this, saying the three-phase proposal approved by Hamas was unacceptable because terms had been watered down. Ceasefire talks in Cairo broke up this month with no agreement.

"They also introduced amendments to the proposal that put the negotiation into a deadlock," said Haniyeh, who is based in Qatar, in a televised speech.

Haniyeh said his group was determined to pursue all available ways to end the war in Gaza, leaving the door open to more mediation efforts, but he held to the group's key demands.

"Any efforts or agreement must secure a permanent ceasefire, a comprehensive pull-out from all of the Gaza Strip, a real prisoner swap deal, the return of the displaced, reconstruction, and lifting the blockade," said Haniyeh.

Israel says it wants to reach a prisoners-for-hostages deal but has so far refused any commitment to end the military offensive in Gaza, which it said seeks to annihilate Hamas.

Haniyeh, whose group has been running Gaza since 2007, rejected any post-war settlement in Gaza that excludes the group. "Hamas existed to stay," he said.

"The movement (Hamas) will decide, along with all national factions, the administration of the Gaza Strip after the war," said Haniyeh.

Israel says Hamas can't have any role in ruling Gaza after the war is over. Its ally, the United States, says it wants to see Gaza and the West Bank reunited under Hamas' rival, the Palestinian Authority, which currently has limited self-rule in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

Health authorities in Gaza say the war has killed almost 35,000 people since the Oct 7 attack by Hamas on Israel. Some 1,200 people were killed in Israel and 253 were taken hostage on Oct 7, according to Israeli tallies.

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