Israel PM Netanyahu rejects Hamas conditions to end Gaza war, hostage release
As Israeli planes continued to bomb Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, senior Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri told Reuters the Israeli leader's refusal to end the military offensive in Gaza "means there is no chance for the return of the (Israeli) captives."
"In exchange for the release of our hostages, Hamas demands the end of the war, the withdrawal of our forces from Gaza, the release of all the murderers and rapists," Netanyahu said in a statement. "And leaving Hamas intact."
"I reject outright the terms of surrender of the monsters of Hamas," Netanyahu said.
A deal brokered in late November by the United States, Qatar and Egypt saw the release of more than 100 of the estimated 240 hostages who were taken captive to Gaza by Hamas militants on October 7, in exchange for the release of 240 Palestinian women and children held in Israeli prisons.
Since that deal ended Netanyahu has faced mounting pressure to secure the release the 136 hostages who remain in captivity.
Israeli strikes have gone on to kill over 25,000 Palestinians since, with thousands feared to be buried under rubble amid the spread of disease and famine, which are likely to exacerbate the death toll.
Israel has been accused of carrying out war crimes and genocide, due to its brutal military onslaught and atrocities committed in the territory.
Recently, Netanyahu also took a stronger line on the topic of Palestinian statehood, outright rejecting it.
"I will not compromise on full Israeli security control of all territory west of the Jordan River," he said.
US President Joe Biden on Friday said he spoke with Netanyahu about possible solutions for creation of an independent Palestinian state, suggesting one path could involve a non-militarized government.
In the statement on Sunday, Netanyahu repeated that he would insist upon "full Israeli security control over all the territory west of Jordan."
Netanyahu said that he faced down "international and internal pressures," to change this position.
"My insistence is what prevented for years the establishment of a Palestinian state that would have posed an existential danger to Israel," Netanyahu said.