Arab diplomat: Netanyahu saying he only backs partial hostage deal harmed negotiations

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US bureau chief

WASHINGTON — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s claim yesterday that he only supports a partial hostage deal with Hamas so that Israel can resume fighting against the terror group after female, elderly and sick hostages are released has caused harm to negotiations, a senior Arab diplomat from one of the mediating countries tells The Times of Israel.

The diplomat says Hamas has long expressed its concern in the talks that Israel would only agree to phase one of the deal before finding a way to resume fighting, rather than continuing to phase two, during which Israel is supposed to permanently withdraw from the Strip in exchange for the remaining living hostages.

The senior Arab diplomat says Netanyahu has vindicated Hamas’s concerns with his remarks to Channel 14 yesterday.

The premier sought to walk back his comments, claiming earlier today that he is “committed to the Israeli [ceasefire] proposal welcomed by [US] President Biden.”

The Arab diplomat says the outstanding issue in the talks remains Hamas’s demand that Israel commit up front to a permanent ceasefire.

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