Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said he will not be forced to make concessions to Hamas over Gaza. He was speaking as peace talks reconvened in Cairo on Sunday.
Ahead of the weekly cabinet meeting, he warned that any deal must put Israel’s security needs first.
“If Hamas thinks its defeat on the battlefield will be papered over by a victory at the negotiating table it is mistaken. If Hamas thinks that by continuing the sporadic shootings [of rockets at Israel] it will make us agree to concessions it is mistaken. While there’s no silence [peace] in Israel, Hamas will continue to suffer hard hits,” Netanyahu said.
On Saturday Hamas spokesman Osama Hamdan said: “Israel must accept the demands of the Palestinian people or face a long war.”
Izzat el-Reshiq, a Hamas negotiator in Cairo, wrote on Twitter that relinquishing “the weapons of resistance” was not a matter for discussion.
Thousands of Israelis rallied in Tel Aviv on Saturday calling for a diplomatic solution to the conflict.
Protesters chanted slogans such as ‘Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies’ and demanded an end to Israel’s occupation of the Gaza Strip.
The United Nations said 425,000 people in the Gaza Strip have been displaced by the five weeks of hostilities. The Palestinian Health Ministry in the enclave says 1,980 Palestinians, most of them civilians, have been killed in the conflict.
On the Israeli side, 64 soldiers and three civilians have been killed.
A five-day cease-fire runs out on Monday.
In Gaza, Pierre Krähenbühl, head of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, said he hoped ceasefire talks would lead to substantial change on the ground.
“There has to be a message of hope for the people of Gaza, there has to be a message for something different, there has to be a message of freedom for the people, freedom to move, freedom to trade,” Krähenbühl told reporters.
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