Israel-Gaza War

Netanyahu: Surrendering to Hamas' demands would be a "sign of weakness" 

Following accusations about faltering negotiations, Prime Minister Netanyahu reiterated that Hamas is the one impeding progress on negotiations for the release of hostages. 

Binyamin Netanyahu (Photo: Itay Ben-On, Prime Minister's Office)

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu referred today (Sunday) to ongoing negotiations for the release of Israeli hostages. At the beginning of his remarks, he pointed an accusing finger at the media which, according to him, is damaging the negotiations: "I would like to refer to trending publications in the media, publications that cause damage to negotiations for the release of hostages, and also to the unnecessary suffering their families have to endure. My heart goes out to them," stated the Prime Minister.

Later, Netanyahu pointed out that Hamas is the one behind the failure in negotiations. "Contrary to media publications, it is Hamas that is thwarting the release of our hostages. We are working in every possible way to release them. They're at the forefront of our minds."

According to him: "Israel was and still is ready for a ceasefire. That's what we did when [they] released 124 hostages, and we got back to fighting - and that's what we're ready to do today as well. In recent weeks, we've been working around the clock to forge an agreement that will return the hostages."

"And again, completely contrary to publications, in order to achieve this goal, we gave the negotiation team a very broad mandate to promote the release. We did this out of our deep duty to the hostages and [a responsibility] to put an end to the terrible suffering of their families."

According to Netanyahu: "Throughout the negotiations, Israel demonstrated a willingness to go a long way. A long way that was described by the American Secretary of State Blinken and others as "particularly generous." But while Israel showed this willingness, Hamas remained entrenched in its extreme positions, primarily the demand to remove our forces from the Strip, to end the war, and leave Hamas intact."

"The next massacre is only a matter of time"

The Prime Minister went on to state the importance of not putting an end to the fighting: "The State of Israel cannot accept this. 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 villages, in the South, and in all parts of the country."

"If this happens, the next massacre is only a matter of time," continued Netanyahu. "Hamas will be able to fulfill its promise to carry out the massacres, the rapes and the kidnappings again and again. Did our heroic soldiers die in vain? Is this what we paid unbearably heavy prices for? The answer is - 'no!'"

Netanyahu repeated his insistence not to comply with Hamas' demands: "Surrender would be a terrible defeat for the State of Israel. It would be a huge victory for Hamas, for Iran, for the entire axis of evil. It would project a terrible weakness - both to our friends and our enemies. And this weakness will only bring the next war and keep the next peace agreement away."

"Because alliances are not made with the weak and the defeated, they are made with the strong and the victorious. Therefore, Israel will not agree to Hamas's demands, which mean surrender, and it will continue the fighting until all its goals are achieved."


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