Netanyahu: No Gaza deal unless Israel’s security needs met

JERUSALEM (AA) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel’s security needs must be addressed in any long-term ceasefire deal with Gaza-based Palestinian factions as indirect negotiations are set to resume in Cairo later Sunday.

“We are in the midst of a combined military and diplomatic campaign,” Netanyahu said at the beginning of a weekly cabinet meeting.

“From the first day, the Israeli delegation to Cairo has worked under clear instructions: insist on the security needs of the State of Israel. Only if there is a clear response to our security needs will we agree to reach understandings,” he added.

Palestinian and Israeli negotiating teams arrived earlier Sunday in Cairo to resume the indirect talks as a five-day truce entered its fourth day.

A Palestinian source said that the Palestinian team would stick to the “resistance demands,” including the end of Israeli siege on Gaza and allowing the establishment of a seaport.

The talks follow more than a month of Israeli attacks on the Palestinian territory, leaving nearly 1980 Palestinians dead and around 10,000 others injured.

About 64 Israeli troops were also killed in Gaza combat, while three civilians were killed by rockets fired from the Gaza Strip, according to official Israeli figures.

Netanyahu said that Hamas would be “mistaken” if it thought it can “cover up its military loss with a diplomatic achievement.”

He said if Hamas thinks that continued “sporadic firing” will cause Israel to make concessions, it is “mistaken.” He also vowed that Hamas will continue to “take very harsh blows as long as quiet is not restored.”

The coastal strip, home to some 1.8 million Palestinians, has reeled under a crippling Israeli blockade since 2006, which has badly affected residents’ livelihoods.

Apart from killing hundreds of Palestinians and injuring thousands of others, the recent Israeli offensive on the Palestinian territory had left thousands of homes and buildings in Gaza in total ruin.

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