Hamas keen on Gaza truce deal with Israel, but 'not at any cost'

Hamas keen on Gaza truce deal with Israel, but 'not at any cost'
Hamas says it is ready to accept a truce deal, but only if it involves a permanent ceasefire and guarantees that Rafah will not be invaded.
3 min read
05 May, 2024
Hamas leader Ismail Hanieyh has said that the group is flexible in negotiations with Israel over a truce in Gaza [Getty]

A senior source in Hamas said on Sunday that the Palestinian group was keen on reaching a peace agreement with Israel through ongoing indirect truce talks in Cairo, but "not at any cost".

The source, speaking to The New Arab’s Arabic language sister outlet Al-Araby Al-Jadeed under the condition of anonymity, added: "There will be no agreement without a complete cessation of hostilities and the withdrawal of [Israel] from the entire Gaza Strip."

The Hamas source also said that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s continued threats to invade Rafah were attempts "to obstruct reaching an agreement for his own personal reasons".

He further warned that any Israeli invasion of Rafah would "not be a picnic, and the occupation will pay a high price for any adventure it undertakes, and it will end in failure".

These comments sharply contradict the Israeli and US narrative that Hamas was obstructing a peace deal, with the Palestinian group emphasising the "necessity for the agreement to include an explicit provision for a comprehensive ceasefire in one of the stages of the prisoner exchange deals".

Hamas has for months maintained that any truce agreement with Israel must include an end to the war, the end to Israel's invasion and occupation of Gaza, including the siege, the return of Palestinians to their homes and the adequate delivery of humanitarian aid into the Strip.

On Friday, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said the ceasefire deal was a "no-brainer" for Hamas, further claiming that "the reality at this moment is the only thing standing between the people of Gaza and a ceasefire is Hamas".

However, since then, Israel has publicly stated it will not agree to any truce deal that ends the war. This means, contrary to Blinken’s claims, any agreement reached through the Cairo talks would represent only a temporary halt in the conflict.

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In an interview with the BBC on Saturday, Israeli minister Amichai Chikli said the war will continue "until Hamas is eliminated".

"We don't have the option to agree to a deal that includes ending the war or giving up a full-scale operation in Rafah," he added.

The Hamas official criticised what he called Israel's "obstinacy", adding that "Netanyahu bears full responsibility for this obstruction" and accused the Israeli premier of "lying and deceiving the families of the hostages, his government, and the world".

An Egyptian source involved in the negotiations, speaking to Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, supported Hamas’s account by saying: "The ball is currently in the court of the Israeli government."

"The US administration has presented what can be described as commitments or assurances," the source said, adding that the failure or success of a deal "depends on Israel’s response to the outcomes of the Cairo meetings".

The truce negotiations in Cairo currently include Hamas, Egypt, Qatar, and the US, with Israel not participating directly at this stage.