Report: Israeli Official Says ‘No Movement’ in Hamas Talks

Tel Aviv has offered mixed signals about a US-endorsed peace plan floated by President Joe Biden last month

Negotiations to end Israel’s months-long war on Gaza have all but reached a standstill, an unnamed senior Israeli official told a local media outlet. The comments come days after Hamas’ political leadership expressed a desire to continue dialogue.

Speaking to Israel’s Channel 12 on Saturday, the high-ranking official reportedly voiced pessimism about the ongoing talks, saying negotiators were “unable to convey the idea to Hamas that there will be no better deal than the one proposed by Israel.”

“We have reached a situation where there is no movement. Israel has gone as far as it can go. President [Joe] Biden has adopted the proposal. The [United Nations] Security Council voted on a proposal for Israel to stop the war,” they said, adding that there was “no longer any room for additional discussions.”

While the official blamed Hamas for the impasse, the Israeli government has made contradictory statements about a multi-stage ceasefire plan announced by President Biden in May, which was alleged to have the support of Tel Aviv.

Mere hours after Biden unveiled the proposal, however, the office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement that appeared at odds with what the US president had just announced. It insisted any deal must allow Israel to “continue the war until all its objectives are achieved, including the destruction of Hamas’s military and governing capabilities.”

Hamas’ eradication was not provided for in the US-backed peace plan, which instead called for an immediate pause to fighting until the warring parties could hammer out a more permanent ceasefire. During that time, Hamas and Israel would also negotiate prisoner swaps, and Israeli forces would later withdraw from Gaza entirely if the talks achieved progress.

More recently, the Israeli PM suggested the Gaza mission would soon shift to lower-intensity operations, but nonetheless declared he was “not willing to end the war and leave Hamas as it is.”

On Friday, Hamas’ political bureau chief Ismail Haniyeh said the group was still willing to reach a deal to end the war, though he went on to stress its main conditions: a lasting ceasefire, prisoner exchanges, as well as the reconstruction of Gaza and additional humanitarian aid.

“[Hamas] is open to engaging with any proposal or initiative that secures the foundations of the Palestinian resistance’s position in ceasefire negotiations in the Gaza Strip,” Haniyeh said.

Despite the obstacles, international mediators have also continued to voice hopes for an agreement, with Qatar’s Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani telling reporters on Friday that Doha and Cairo were working to “bridge the gap” between the two sides. He cautioned that no final framework had been accepted, however.

“Efforts are continuing, but so far we have not reached a formula that we feel is the most appropriate and closest to what has been presented,” the Qatari leader said. “As soon as this is done, we will communicate with the Israeli side to try to bridge the gap and reach an agreement as quickly as possible.”

Will Porter is assistant news editor at the Libertarian Institute and a regular contributor at Find more of his work at Consortium News and ZeroHedge.