Cairo conversations go on but hopes for Gaza ceasefire appear slim

Prospects for a Gaza ceasefire seemed to be slim on May 5 as Hamas reiterated its demand for an end to the war in exchange for the liberation of hostages, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu flatly ruled that out. The two sides blamed each other for the impasse.

In their second day of truce conversations with Egyptian and Qatari mediators in Cairo, Hamas negotiators maintained their stance that any truce agreement must end the war, Palestinian officials revealed.

Israeli officials have not gone to Cairo to participate in indirect diplomacy, but on May 5, Mr Netanyahu reiterated Israel’s aim since the beginning of the war nearly seven months ago: To disarm and dismantle the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas for good or else endanger Israel’s future safety.

The Prime Minister said Israel was wanting to put a halt on fighting in Gaza in order to save the release of hostages still being held by Hamas, believed to number more than 130.

“But whilst Israel has shown willingness, Hamas remains entrenched in its extreme positions, first among them the demand to eradicate all our forces from the Gaza Strip, end the war, and leave Hamas in power,” Mr Netanyahu revealed. “Israel cannot accept that.”