Gaza: Positive but Slow Progress in Israel-Hamas Talks

Israeli government authorizes the closure of Al Jazeera in the country

Indirect talks underway in Cairo between Hamas and Israel, mediated by Egypt and Qatar, are “making positive progress.” This was stated by a senior source in the Egyptian Foreign Ministry to Al Qahera News Agency. According to the same source, one of the future agreement’s key points that is hampering negotiations concerns “the return of Palestinians displaced from southern Gaza to the northern Strip.”

Hamas’s demand that the clause be included in the final text of the agreement caused another setback in negotiations aimed at reaching a truce in Gaza and releasing Israeli hostages. Hamas politburo member Husam Badran accused Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of “not showing interest in the agreement,” while emphasizing that “the proposal currently being discussed in Cairo is the best one presented so far.”

Netanyahu’s stern warning came from the families of Israeli prisoners in Gaza, who asked the Jewish head of government to “take the initiative, show courage, and secure the return of all 132 hostages held by Hamas.” According to the families of the hostages taken by Hamas during the bloody attack on Israel on October 7, 2023, “history will not forgive Netanyahu if he misses this opportunity to return their loved ones to their families.”

There is a real tug-of-war going on both in Israeli society and among Tel Aviv’s political leaders over negotiations with Hamas. Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, leader of the far-right Otzma Yehudit party, called on Netanyahu to abandon the “reckless” agreement with Hamas and launch a military ground operation as soon as possible in Palestinian Rafah, a city in southern Gaza that is home to hundreds of thousands of refugees and, according to Israeli intelligence, Hamas leadership.

The media war between Israel and Arab countries is also becoming more intense. On Sunday, May 5, the Israeli government unanimously authorized the shutdown of Qatari television channel Al Jazeera, in accordance with a law approved by the Knesset in April. Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi, who initiated the law, immediately signed an order to implement the decision. “Our orders will take effect immediately. It has taken too long and there have been too many unnecessary legal obstacles to finally stop Al Jazeera’s well-oiled incitement machine, which is damaging state security,” stressed Karhi, who now has the authority to order the blocking of Al Jazeera broadcasts, manage the closure of the channel’s Israeli office, confiscate technical equipment, possibly including cell phones, and finally block access to Al Jazeera’s website.