Israel Palestine Conflict

Hamas: Talks with Israel on further release of hostages must be tied to a ceasefire

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Senior Hamas official Osama Hamdan said on Sunday that resuming talks with Israel on further exchanges of hostages and prisoners must be tied to a “cessation of aggression and a ceasefire.”

“We affirm that the resumption of prisoner exchange negotiations is contingent upon the cessation of aggression and a ceasefire,” he told reporters in Beirut.

“Prior to that, there is no discussion about it.”

Hamdan said Israel’s “stubbornness and procrastination” despite efforts from mediators - Qatar, Egypt, and the United States - led to the breakdown in the weeklong truce.

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Both sides have blamed each other for the ceasefire not being extended, with Israel claiming Hamas violated the terms of the truce.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Hamas had not met its obligation to release all of the female hostages.

Hamdan said that following several exchanges of detainees, Israel claimed that Hamas still had Israeli women to release, but he said the list submitted contained combatants in the Israeli military and not civilians.

“They were all female soldiers who were captured from military sites,” he said.

He added that “these soldiers had a special method and a special mechanism” for exchange.

Hopes for another temporary truce in Gaza were fading.

The ceasefire facilitated the release of dozens of the roughly 240 Gaza-held Israeli and foreign hostages in exchange for Palestinians imprisoned by Israel.

But Israel has called its negotiators home, and Netanyahu says the war will continue until “all its goals” are achieved.

One is to remove Hamas from power in Gaza.

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