Advertisement

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu signals return to ceasefire talks

Benjamin Netanyahu (AP)
Benjamin Netanyahu (AP)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says his government will restart ceasefire talks with Hamas.

His announcement on Friday marks yet another attempt to reach a deal with the militant group to pause Israel’s military offensive in Gaza in exchange for the release of Israeli hostages.

Several rounds of negotiations have already faltered.

Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh, left, is welcomed by Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian for their meeting in Tehran, Iran, Tuesday, March 26, 2024. (AP)
Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh, left, is welcomed by Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian for their meeting in Tehran, Iran, Tuesday, March 26, 2024. (AP)

Netanyahu said he has spoken with Israel’s lead negotiators and authorized Israeli delegations to join talks in Qatar and Egypt over the coming days.

With the war now grinding through a sixth month, the United States, Qatar and Egypt have spent months trying to negotiate another cease-fire and hostage release.

Hamas has previously proposed a phased process in which it would release all the remaining hostages in exchange for an end to the war and full Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, the opening of its borders for aid and reconstruction, and the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners, including top militants serving life sentences.

Family members of seven Gaza hostages held a conference at the Israeli embassy in London (Jonathan Brady/PA) (PA Wire)
Family members of seven Gaza hostages held a conference at the Israeli embassy in London (Jonathan Brady/PA) (PA Wire)

Netanyahu has called the demands delusional and vowed to resume Israel’s offensive after any hostage release and keep fighting until the militant group is destroyed.

Hamas is believed to be holding roughly 100 hostages, as well as the remains of about 30 people killed in the group’s Oct. 7 attack, which triggered the war, or who died in captivity.

It comes as a senior US State Department official warned famine is both a risk and quite possibly already present in at least some areas of the northern Gaza Strip.

Speaking anonymously to the Reuters news agency, they said: “While we can say with confidence that famine is a significant risk in the south and center but not present, in the north, it is both a risk and quite possibly is present in at least some areas.”.

Earlier this month a global authority on food security - backed by the United Nations - warned famine was imminent and likely to occur by May in northern Gaza and could spread across the enclave by July.