Netanyahu insists on ‘absolute victory’ over Hamas amid cease-fire talks

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Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected any concessions to Hamas on Tuesday amid international pressure for a temporary cease-fire to allow for the release of hostages held in the Gaza Strip and to address a dire humanitarian crisis.

Netanyahu rejected releasing more Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails or withdrawing the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) from the Gaza Strip, saying Israel is pursuing “total victory” to eliminate Hamas, demilitarize the strip and secure the return of hostages.

“We will not withdraw the IDF from the Gaza Strip and we will not release thousands of terrorists. None of this will happen. What will happen? Total victory!” Netanyahu said, speaking at a religious army preparatory school in the Israeli settlement of Eli in the West Bank.

The prime minister’s remarks came after U.S. and Qatari officials said good progress had been made on agreeing to a framework to present to Hamas to pause fighting in the nearly four-month war, allowing for the release of Israeli hostages kidnapped by Hamas in its Oct. 7 attack against Israel.

The pause is also expected to allow for the increase of humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip and could also see the release of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. 

“I hear talk about all kinds of deals. I would like to make it clear: We will not conclude this war without achieving all of its goals. This means eliminating Hamas, returning all of our hostages and ensuring that Gaza never again constitutes a threat to Israel,” Netanyahu said.

Hamas has sent mixed signals about the deal offer, reportedly offering an initial rejection and calling for a complete cease-fire. But Hamas political leader Ismail Haniyeh said Monday he would travel to Cairo to discuss the proposal.

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