Israel will not agree to any long-term ceasefire in Gaza at indirect talks in Cairo unless its security needs are clearly met, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday.
“The Israeli delegation in Cairo is acting with a very clear mandate to stand firmly on Israel’s security needs,” Netanyahu told ministers at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem.
“Only if there is a clear answer to Israel’s security needs, only then will we agree to reach an understanding,” he said.
His comments came as talks between Israelis and Palestinians for a long-term truce in Gaza resumed in Cairo, with just over a day left before a temporary ceasefire is set to expire.
The talks have dragged since Aug. 4, when both sides agreed a renewable temporary ceasefire to end a month of fighting that killed almost 2,000 Palestinians in Gaza.
The talks started in the headquarters of the Egyptian intelligence -- who mediate the negotiations -- in the absence of some Hamas leaders who were expected in Cairo later in the day.
Hamas' head of foreign affairs, Osama Hamdan, said offers made to the Palestinian delegation in Cairo fail to meet the aspirations of the people, raising doubts about the chances of reaching a truce with Israel in the Egyptian-brokered talks.
“Israel must accept the demands of the Palestinian people or face a long war,” Hamdan said on his official Facebook page on Saturday.
During the cabinet meeting, Netanyahu warned that Hamas, which he said had suffered a major military blow, would not walk away from the Cairo talks with any political success.
“If Hamas thinks it will make up for its military losses with a political achievement, it is wrong,” Netanyahu said.
“If Hamas thinks that by continuing the steady trickle of rocket fire it will force us to make concessions, it is wrong. As long as there is no quiet, Hamas will continue to suffer heavy blows,” Netanyahu added.
“Hamas knows we have a lot of power but maybe it thinks we don’t have enough determination and patience, and even there it is wrong, it is making a big mistake,” he said.
Meanwhile, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said the Palestinians would not back down from their demands, central of which is a lifting of Israel’s eight-year blockade on the enclave, and that the outcome of the talks was in Israel’s hands.
“We are committed to achieving the Palestinian demands and there is no way back from this. All these demands are basic human rights that do not need this battle or these negotiations,” Abu Zuhri said.
“The ball is in the Israeli occupation’s court,” he said.