Hamas leader says terror group to keep original hardline demands in hostage talks

File: Ismail Haniyeh, the Doha-based political bureau chief of Hamas, speaks to the press after a meeting with the Iranian foreign minister in Tehran on March 26, 2024. (AFP)
File: Ismail Haniyeh, the Doha-based political bureau chief of Hamas, speaks to the press after a meeting with the Iranian foreign minister in Tehran on March 26, 2024. (AFP)

Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh says that his terror group at war with Israel is sticking to its conditions for a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, including a complete Israeli military withdrawal from Gaza.

Israeli officials visited Egypt earlier this week in a renewed effort to secure a deal, but a Palestinian official close to mediation efforts says there are no signs of a breakthrough.

“We are committed to our demands: a permanent ceasefire, a comprehensive and complete withdrawal of the enemy out of the Gaza Strip, the return of all displaced people to their homes, allowing all aid needed for our people in Gaza, rebuilding the Strip, lifting the blockade and achieving an honorable prisoner exchange deal,” Haniyeh says in a televised speech marking Al-Quds (Jerusalem) Day.

In recent months, negotiators indicated that Hamas was privately willing to compromise on its demand for a permanent ceasefire in favor of a phased deal that would start with a six-week truce during which the sides would agree to negotiate something more sustainable.

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