Netanyahu says any Gaza deal must meet Israel's security needs

Netanyahu says any Gaza deal must meet Israel's security needs

PanARMENIAN.Net - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday, Aug 17, any deal on Gaza's future had to meet his country’s security needs, warning Hamas it faced "harsh strikes" if it resumed firing into the Jewish state, according to Reuters.

With a five-day ceasefire due to expire late on Monday, negotiators returned after consultations to Cairo to seek an end to five weeks of hostilities that have killed more than 2,000 people.

Late on Sunday, a Palestinian official said Israel's position in the talks, as presented to them by Egyptian mediators, were a "retreat from what had already been achieved and discussions had returned to square one."

The official, who was not named, told Egypt's official news agency MENA that Israel had toughened its stance and had placed "impossible" demands, particularly on security issues. He said the Palestinians would review the situation and were expected to offer their response early on Monday.

"We are determined to achieve the demands of our people and foremost is ending the aggression and launching the rebuilding process and lifting the Israeli-imposed blockade of the Gaza Strip," MENA quoted the official as saying.

Moussa Abu Marzouk, a senior Hamas official at the talks, said there was no certainty the ceasefire would continue beyond its Monday night deadline.

"There are 24 hours left for the agreed calm period and it may not be renewed. The Palestinian delegation will not cede any of the rights of our people," he told a Hamas web site.

Netanyahu, in public remarks to his cabinet, said Hamas should not underestimate Israel's resolve to battle on.

"Only if there is a clear response to our security needs will we agree to reach understandings," he said. "If Hamas thinks that through continued intermittent firing it will cause us to make concessions, it is mistaken. For as long as quiet does not return, Hamas will continue to absorb very harsh strikes."

Commenting on Netanyahu's remarks, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said: "The only way to achieve security is to afford security to the Palestinians first and to lift the blockade and to agree to their demands."

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