“We sleep in fear and sit with fear. There is no food, and the weather is cold.”
The Israeli leader’s comments are a blow to a sustained push by the US to reach a deal that its top diplomat, Antony Blinken, described as “the best path forward” – even though he cautioned there was “still a lot of work to be done”.
During a news conference on Wednesday, Mr Blinken said there were “some clear non-starters” in Hamas’ counter-proposal. But, he added: “We do think it creates space for an agreement to be reached, and we will work at that relentlessly till we get there.”
Sharone Lifshitz, whose parents were among those kidnapped in southern Israel on 7 October and taken to Gaza, told the BBC’s Newshour programme that Mr Netanyahu’s rejection of the Hamas ceasefire terms was “almost certainly a death sentence to more hostages”.
Ms Lifshitz’s 85-year-old mother, Yocheved, was subsequently released but her father, Oded, remains in captivity.
“My own father is 83, he’s frail, he cannot last longer,” she said.
“I don’t know if the prime minister thinks about him, or if he already accounts for him as somebody who would return in a coffin.”
Mr Netanyahu’s stance also highlights the continuing, fundamental mismatch between the US and Israel’s plans for Gaza’s future.
He is insisting on an entity where Israel maintains overall security control, and Gaza is run by local bodies with no connection to Hamas or any other group.
Washington’s vision of the future includes a horizon with a Palestinian state.
The urgent question now is whether something can be salvaged to keep these talks going to achieve another exchange of hostages and prisoners, and a desperately needed humanitarian pause, to allow more aid into the Gaza Strip. (Source: BBC)
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