‘Ball is completely’ in Israel’s hands, says Hamas on Gaza ceasefire talks

Palestinian militant group Hamas said early Friday that its delegation attending Gaza ceasefire negotiations in Cairo had left the city for Qatar, adding the “ball is now completely” in Israel’s hands.

Smoke rises following Israeli strikes, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip (REUTERS)

“The negotiating delegation left Cairo heading to Doha. In practice, the occupation (Israel) rejected the proposal submitted by the mediators and raised objections to it on several central issues,” the group said in a message to other Palestinian factions, adding it stood by the proposal.

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“Accordingly, the ball is now completely in the hands of the occupation.”

State-linked Egyptian outlet Al-Qahera News reported Thursday that representatives of both camps left Cairo after two days of negotiations aimed at finalising a ceasefire deal in the seven-month war in the Gaza Strip.

Efforts by Egypt and other mediators, namely Qatar and the United States, “continue to bring the points of view of the two parties closer together”, the outlet added, citing a high-level Egyptian source.

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Hamas said Monday that it had accepted a ceasefire proposal put forward by mediators.

The deal, the group said, involved a withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza, the return of Palestinians displaced by the war, and the exchange of hostages held by militants for Palestinian prisoners detained in Israel, with the aim of a “permanent ceasefire”.

Netanyahu’s office at the time called the proposal “far from Israel’s essential demands”, but said the government would still send negotiators to Cairo.

Israel has long been resistant to the idea of a permanent ceasefire, insisting it must finish the job of dismantling Hamas.

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