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Egypt enraged by Netanyahu's demands as talks stall, Israel-Cairo ties tumble

The list of non-negotiable demands Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued ahead of talks for a hostage release deal are likely to not only sabotage negotiations, but also harm Israel’s relations with Egypt.
EYAD BABA/AFP via Getty Images

TEL AVIV — Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a list of demands on Sunday ahead of renewed Israel-Hamas hostage release negotiations, proving yet again that when it comes to Israel’s partners, he has no qualms on provoking them all at the same time, be it the United States, Egypt or Qatar. 

Netanyahu’s “non-negotiable” demands, as described by his office, include a guarantee that Israel could resume fighting Hamas in the Gaza Strip at any stage in the cease-fire deal that includes the phased release of some 120 Israelis held by the organization for nine months. Although Netanyahu acknowledged that Hamas had given up its demand for an Israeli commitment to end the war, he attributed this shift to his insistence on continued military pressure on the organization.

Netanyahu’s statement enraged the Egyptian mediators, puzzled the Qatari negotiators and frustrated the Israeli security officials working for months on the deal, Arab and Israeli diplomatic sources told Al-Monitor. The US mediators appeared the least annoyed, as they know who they are dealing with. A senior Israeli official involved in the talks told Al-Monitor that the Americans would have been actually surprised had Netanyahu not thrown a spanner in the works.

Netanyahu, evidently alarmed by the unusually positive indications of progress in the protracted hostage deal talks, rushed to try to sabotage them. While the Israeli team led by Mossad chief David Barnea convened in the prime minister’s office to formulate its strategy for the resumption of negotiations in Doha this week, Netanyahu’s aides issued the statement of demands and laid out the obstacles to a deal.

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