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Netanyahu rejects Hamas demands to hostage deal

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday rejected Hamas’s response to secure the release of Israeli hostages in exchange for a pause in fighting and other hard-line conditions.

Netanyahu called Hamas’s proposal “delusional” and doubled down on his vow that Israel would continue its military operation in the Gaza Strip until it reached “absolute victory.”

The Israeli leader made the remarks following a meeting with Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who had arrived in Israel to continue negotiations on the framework of a deal to pause fighting between Israel and Hamas, secure the release of more than 100 Israeli hostages, scale up humanitarian deliveries to civilians in Gaza and work toward finding a long-term cease-fire deal.

The framework was likely to include the release of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, as had occurred in a pause brokered in late November. But in this deal Hamas laid out more strict conditions, calling for the withdrawal of all Israeli troops from Gaza. That’s a high bar for the Israeli government, especially given Netanyahu’s insistence on continuing military operations and having the ability to carry out operations in response to Hamas threats.

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