Cannot accept Hamas' demand to withdraw from Gaza, asserts Netanyahu

IANS Photo

Tel Aviv, May 5 (IANS) Amid ongoing talks for a 'pause' and mounting demands for the release of hostages, Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday asserted that his country will not accept Hamas's demands to end the Gaza war, reports said.

"We are not ready to accept a situation in which the Hamas battalions come out of their bunkers, take control of Gaza again, rebuild their military infrastructure, and return to threatening the citizens of Israel in the surrounding communities, in the cities of the south, in all parts of the country," he said, the BBC reported.

"Israel will not agree to Hamas' demands," he reiterated.

His statement came as negotiations resumed in Egypt to strike a deal for a pause in Israel's Gaza offensive in return for the release of hostages taken by Hamas.

The prime dispute is whether the pause - pegged to be around 40 days for the release of hostages and Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails - will be permanent, as Hamas wants - or not.

Netanyahu contended the proposed deal would keep Hamas in control of Gaza, and remaining a threat to Israel, the BBC said.

A Hamas official, who is an adviser to senior leader Ismail Haniyeh, said the group was looking at the latest proposal with "full seriousness" but repeated their demand that any deal explicitly includes Israel forces withdrawing from Gaza and a complete end to the war.