Israel-Hamas ceasefire talks break down and spark fears of imminent invasion of Rafah by IDF

5 May 2024, 13:39 | Updated: 5 May 2024, 23:22

Benjamin Netanyahu
Benjamin Netanyahu. Picture: Getty
Kieran Kelly

By Kieran Kelly

Israeli talks with Hamas over a ceasefire have broken down - as PM Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to invade Rafah despite international calls for restraint.

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Netanyahu rejected a ceasefire proposal on Sunday, saying it would have allowed Hamas time to rebuild and launch future attacks.

Mr Netanyahu said Hamas's call for a withdrawal of all troops from Gaza and an end to the war is unacceptable.

"Surrendering to the demands of Hamas would be a terrible defeat for the State of Israel," the Israeli PM said in a statement.

Read More: IDF withdraws most troops from southern Gaza city before expected final offensive into Rafah

In later remarks, Netanyahu declared: "Hamas remains entrenched in its extreme positions, first among them the demand to remove all our forces from the Gaza Strip, end the war, and leave Hamas in power.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaking to the press during a joint press conference with U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III, in Israel on April 12, 2021.
Netanyahu rejected a ceasefire proposal on Sunday, saying it would have allowed Hamas time to rebuild and launch future attacks. Picture: Alamy

“Israel cannot accept that … Hamas would be able to achieve its promise of carrying out again and again and again its massacres, rapes and kidnapping.”

“I say to the leaders of the world: No amount of pressure, no decision by any international forum will stop Israel from defending itself,” he added. “Never again is now.”

Talks around a ceasefire have been ongoing for some time, with Israel demanding the return of hostages currently being held in captivity by Hamas.

Mr Netanyahu added: "While Hamas remains entrenched in its extreme positions, first among them the demand to remove all our forces from the Gaza Strip, end the war, and leave Hamas in power."

More "massacres, rapes and kidnapping" would then occur, Mr Netanyahu continued.

Meanwhile, Hamas said it remains "keen to reach a comprehensive, interconnected agreement that ends the aggression, guarantees withdrawal, and achieves a serious prisoner exchange deal".

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It follows previous reports that "noticeable progress" had been made in the mediated negotiations.

A three-stage process for an immediate, six-week-long ceasefire and partial release of Israeli hostages was proposed, Sky News reports.

James O'Brien: Israel has 'lost the support of almost an entire generation'

It comes after Mr Netanyahu said on Sunday that his government has voted unanimously to close down the offices in Israel of the Qatar-owned broadcaster Al Jazeera.

Netanyahu announced the decision on X, formerly Twitter.

Details on when it would go into effect or whether it was permanent or temporary were not immediately clear.

The vote comes amid deeply strained ties between Israel and the channel, which have worsened during the war against Hamas.

It also comes as Qatar is helping to broker a cease-fire agreement between Israel and Hamas in the war in Gaza.

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