Hamas militants and Islamic Jihad terror groups operating in Gaza have rejected an Egyptian-led truce proposal with Israel that would see the militants relinquish power in return for an end to the war.
The militant group, who conducted the October 7 massacre in Israel, have refused to take part in one of the biggest conditions laid out by negotiators in Cairo on Sunday: an end to Hamas’ reign in Gaza by forming a Palestinian parliament and holding free elections, according to two Egyptian security sources.
The militant organizations in Palestine instead reiterated that the only thing they’re ready to discuss is a prisoner swap that would see more than 100 Israeli hostages released in exchange for hundreds of Palestinian prisoners being held in Israel’s jails.
However, according to Reuters, a Hamas official who was in Cairo during the negotiations added that even a prisoner swap would only take place once Israel has withdrawn from war-torn Gaza.
“Hamas seeks to end the Israeli aggression against our people, the massacres and genocide, and we discussed with our Egyptian brothers the ways to do that,” the official told Reuters.
“We also said that the aid for our people must keep going and must increase, and it must reach all the population in the north and the south,” the Hamas official added. “After the aggression is stopped and the aid increased, we are ready to discuss prisoner swaps.”
While the peace talks have been previously discussed exchanging one hostage for every three Palestinian women and minors freed, leaders for Islamic Jihad are now demanding a different approach.
Hamas claimed that the only fair exchange would be all the hostages held by Hamas for all the prisoners held by Israel according to the Egyptian sources.
There were about 5,250 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails before the war, but that number has nearly doubled after thousands more were arrested in conflicts along the West Bank since October 7, according to the Palestinian Prisoners Association.
There are believed to be more than 100 Israeli hostages still in captivity in Gaza.
Izzat al-Risheq, a member of Hamas’s political bureau, has come out to insist that the peace talks are not off the table, claiming that the Gazan groups have not rejected the Egyptian plan.
“The leadership of the movement seeks with all force to stop the aggression and massacres against our people completely and not temporarily,” he told Al Aljazeera. “Our people want to stop the aggression and do not wait for temporary truces and a partial truce for a short period, after which the aggression and terrorism will continue.”
The Egyptian plan focuses on three phases, the first of which involves a two-week truce agreement that would see 40 hostages freed in exchange for 120 prisoners.
The second phase involves the establishment of a new government in Gaza, with the final step calling for permanent peace and the freedom of all hostages.
Despite the hesitation from the terror groups to accept the proposal, Israel also appears ready to reject it, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterating that the war will only end when the terror group is destroyed
“Anyone who talks about stopping — no. We’re not stopping,” Netanyahu said during a visit to northern Gaza on Monday. “This is going to go until the end. Until we finish them. No less than that.”