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Hamas refuses to yield in negotiations amid US pressure

· 4 min read

Hamas refuses to yield in negotiations amid U.S. pressure

TEHRAN - A Hamas delegation in the Egyptian capital Cairo is seeking written guarantees that stipulate a sustainable ceasefire in the Gaza Strip.

Hamas refuses to yield in negotiations amid U.S. pressure

A Palestinian official close to the mediation efforts told Reuters that the Hamas delegation had arrived in Cairo with a determination to reach a deal “but not at any price”.  

Experts familiar with the text being proposed by the United States, which the U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken claims is “generous”, argue that it allows the Israeli military to resume its indiscriminate strikes through air, land and sea against civilian targets. 

Some experts have pointed out that the text presented to Hamas addresses key points but fails to provide any details about how the Israeli side will implement the terms. 

There are several examples that have been pointed out and criticized. 

Among the most important points is a permanent ceasefire. 

The Israeli side is insisting that a “sustainable ceasefire” should include Hamas laying down its arms, its leaders leaving Gaza, and Tel Aviv maintaining Israeli forces on Gaza’s territory. This proposal will be implemented in three stages. 

Hamas argues that a permanent ceasefire has a deeper meaning, which is a return to the status quo before October 7. Something resembling this Palestinian condition for a permanent truce is not seen in the proposal offered to Hamas. 

The Israelis are widely believed to have offered a pause to the bombing campaign. 

Sections related to key demands of Hamas, such as the full withdrawal of Israeli forces from the Gaza Strip, are not clearly mentioned in the document. 

The text stipulates that Israeli forces will leave areas across the Gaza Strip but falls short of providing a solid guarantee that also explains how Israeli forces will fully withdraw from the entire coastal enclave. 

The entry of humanitarian aid is mentioned but through Israeli checkpoints that are already preventing vital aid from reaching those who desperately need it, particularly northern Gaza where there is a “full-blown” famine. 

Experts say the text allows a pause in fighting, in various stages, which would see the exchange of Israeli captives held in Gaza for Palestinian prisoners, but allows the Israeli military to resume its indiscriminate bombing campaign including in Rafah after the exchange of prisoners. 

There is no solid guarantee for Hamas that the blockade of Gaza will end or its ports will operate freely without Israeli occupation and other punitive measures against the Palestinian population in Gaza, such as the freedom of movement that have all been in place since 2006. 

Hamas is open to a united Palestinian government ruling over Gaza; the resistance movement has agreed to this as long as it is Palestinians who would rule over their land, yet this appears lost in the final text. 

In essence, the result of reaching a deal in Cairo, as these things stand, will see a temporary ceasefire for the duration of the agreement followed by renewed Israeli war on the women and children in Gaza. 

Yet Blinken says there is a “generous” offer on the table for the Palestinians. 

Hamas insists the final solution must see the end of the indiscriminate war on the enclave, an end to the blockade and a full Israeli withdrawal, which is why regional media is reporting that the resistance organization insists on a written form stipulating a ceasefire signed by the guarantors: the U.S., Egypt and Qatar. 

At the same time, Hamas is willing to make concessions here and there to reach a final solution that brings a guaranteed sustainable ceasefire. 

What Hamas appears unwilling to sign is something similar to the temporary truce, which took effect from November 24-30 in 2023 and saw a prisoner exchange deal but was followed by the Israeli military offensive that has killed and injured tens of thousands of civilians, mostly women and children. 

In a statement, the Hamas political bureau chief Ismail Haniyeh said the resistance movement was keen on reaching a “comprehensive ceasefire” that would end Israeli “aggression”, guarantee the Israeli army withdrawal from Gaza, end the blockade and achieve a serious prisoner swap deal. 

The statement accuses Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of “the continuation of the aggression and the expansion of the circle of conflict, and sabotaging the efforts made through the mediators and various parties.” 

The U.S. says the offer on the table is “generous” but it paves the way for the Israeli genocide to continue at a later date with U.S.-made weapons, including a land invasion into Rafah. 

Neither side trusts the other which is why the Palestinians are seeking written guarantees.