White House says public statements from Israel, Hamas don’t reflect true state of talks

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

National Security Council spokesman John Kirby speaks during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, July 8, 2024. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
National Security Council spokesman John Kirby speaks during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, July 8, 2024. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

The White House knocks recent public comments made by Israeli and Hamas leaders regarding the staged hostage release-ceasefire deal currently being negotiated.

“On both sides, you see public comments that aren’t necessarily fully reflective of the conversations that we’re having privately with them or their interlocutors,” National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby says during a briefing, without getting into specifics.

Yesterday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office issued a statement laying out his four non-negotiable demands, including one in which he claimed Israel would not accept any deal that does not allow it to resume fighting once it begins to be implemented.

The statement sparked a litany of criticism from those involved in the negotiations, including Israeli security officials.

Earlier today, Hamas issued a statement claiming Netanyahu “continues to place more obstacles in front of the negotiations” that are jeopardizing their success.

Asked about the statement made yesterday by Netanyahu’s office at a subsequent press briefing, State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller says, “We think it’s most productive to have these conversations in private, not in public.”

“Sometimes, [you’ve] seen the Israeli government make public statements. Sometimes you’ve seen Hamas make public statements. We’re going to hold the negotiations in private. What has not changed is that Israel, in its conversations with us, is saying that it is committed to the proposal that the president publicly outlined,” Miller says, referring to the Israeli offer that envisions a temporary ceasefire, which mediators hope can be turned into a permanent one.

“We do not believe that their substantive position has changed,” Miller says of the Israeli stance against the backdrop of Netanyahu’s comments, which would appear to amount to a rejection of the proposal that his own war cabinet approved in May.

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