Israel to Hamas: “Agreement in a week or we enter Rafah”


By John

Israel has notified Hamas that if an agreement is not reached within a week, it will begin the operation in Rafah. The Wall Street Journal reports this, citing Egyptian sources. The indiscretion was also picked up by Haaretz.

Hamas: “Netanyahu only speaks to boycott the truce”

A senior Hamas official has accused Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of boycotting any prospect of a truce by continuing to talk about the prospect of a ground operation against Rafah. Hamas is discussing what to do within its leadership and with allied groups, Hossam Badran told AFP, but warned that Netanyahu's statements were designed to “thwart any possibility of concluding an agreement”. «Netanyahu has been the obstructionist in all previous rounds of dialogue and negotiations, and it is clear that he still is», he said in a telephone interview, «he is not interested in reaching an agreement».

Mediators from Egypt, Qatar and the United States have proposed a deal that would end fighting for 40 days and swap Israeli hostages for potentially thousands of Palestinian prisoners, according to details released earlier by Britain. The outcome of the indirect negotiations remained highly uncertain, with back and forth over the number of hostages that could be released and deep differences over the scope of any deal. Badran reiterated that Hamas' goal remains a lasting ceasefire and “a complete and comprehensive withdrawal of the occupation forces from the Gaza Strip.” This goal is at odds with the stated position of Netanyahu, who has promised that the army will continue to fight Hamas, including in Rafah. But after months of back-and-forth negotiations, the head of Hamas' Qatar-based political bureau, Ismail Haniyeh, said Thursday that the group would “soon” send a delegation to Egypt with the aim of an agreement that “satisfies the requests of our people.” Haniyeh also said that Hamas is studying the latest Israeli proposal with “a positive spirit.” Any deal reached would be the first since a week-long truce in November that saw the exchange of 80 Israeli hostages for 240 Palestinian prisoners.