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Israel-Hamas war: Benjamin Netanyahu says Israel will re-join Gaza ceasefire talks | World News


Benjamin Netanyahu has said Israel will return to the negotiating table for a new round of ceasefire talks with Hamas.

Several sets of negotiations have so far failed to find a deal that would see Israel pause its military offensive in return for the release of the remaining hostages taken by the Iranian-backed militant group in its strike on 7 October, which triggered the war.

The Israeli prime minister said on Friday he has told the country’s lead negotiators to join talks in Qatar and Egypt over the coming days.

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With the war now into its sixth month, the US, Qatar and Egypt have spent months trying to negotiate another ceasefire and hostage release, but their efforts appear to have stalled.

Fighting was paused for a week in November, allowing an exchange of women and children held as hostages in Gaza for Palestinian women and teenagers detained or jailed by Israel.

Hamas has previously proposed a phased process in which it would release all the remaining hostages in exchange for an end to the war and full Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, the opening of its borders for aid and reconstruction, and the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners, including top militants serving life sentences.

Mr Netanyahu has called the demands “delusional” and vowed to resume Israel’s offensive after any hostage release and keep fighting until the militant group is destroyed.

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Hamas is believed to be holding roughly 100 hostages, as well as the remains of about 30 people killed in the group’s initial attack, or who died in captivity.

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Mr Netanyahu’s move comes as a senior US state department official said famine is quite possibly present in parts of the northern Gaza Strip.

The official told Reuters on Friday a lack of trucks is hampering efforts to get more aid into the enclave.

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The United Nations has warned of a looming famine and complained of obstacles to getting aid in and distributing it throughout Gaza.

US President Joe Biden acknowledged “the pain being felt” by many Arab Americans over the war in Gaza and Washington’s support of Israel and its military offensive.

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Mr Biden, who faces an election in November at which their votes may prove critical, said in a statement on Arab American Heritage Month released by the White House on Friday, that he was “devastated” by the suffering.

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But, hours later, the Washington Post reported his government had authorised billions of dollars worth of additional bombs and warplanes for Israel in recent days.

More than 30,000 Palestinians have been killed and more than 70,000 injured during the Israeli military’s offensive, according to the Gaza health ministry.

The offensive began after Hamas killed around 1,200 people and kidnapped hundreds more in cross-border attacks on 7 October, according to Israeli authorities.

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