Israel Media Report Netanyahu Has Pulled Out of Cease-fire Talks in Egypt

As talks continued in Cairo toward an Israel-Hamas cease-fire, Israeli media reported on Wednesday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had told his negotiators not to take part, infuriating some family members of hostages still in Gaza who say that the government is not doing enough to rescue their relatives.

Mr. Netanyahu’s office did not directly confirm or deny the reports, instead issuing a statement saying that Hamas had not made any new proposal, but that “a change in Hamas’s position will allow progress in the negotiations.”

Mr. Netanyahu later posted on social media that “strong military pressure and very tough negotiations” would be key to freeing more of the remaining hostages seized during the Hamas-led assault on Israel on Oct. 7. He praised the Israeli military operation that freed two hostages held by Hamas in Rafah on Monday.

Officials from Israel and the United States met this week with Hamas mediators from Qatar and Egypt to discuss a possible deal to trade hostages for Palestinians held in Israeli prisons and to suspend the four-month war in Gaza.

Those talks are still underway in Cairo, but, according to Israeli news outlets, Mr. Netanyahu told Israel’s representatives not to return to Cairo.

The Hostages and Missing Persons Families Forum, the main alliance of the hostages’ family members, responded to the reports by protesting outside the homes of Mr. Netanyahu; Yoav Gallant, Israel’s defense minister; and Benny Gantz, a member of Israel’s war cabinet, on Wednesday evening.

“This decision amounts in effect to sacrificing knowingly all of the hostages’ lives,” the Hostages and Missing Persons Families Forum said in a statement.

The group has mounted increasingly aggressive protests against Mr. Netanyahu’s government to urge it to prioritize the release of their family members. More than 130 hostages captured by Hamas on Oct. 7 remain in Gaza, including at least 30 who are believed to have died, according to the Israeli security services.

Other family members have said that the Israeli military should continue its war against Hamas until it has reached its goals, even if that means their relatives must remain in captivity.

Officials have said that in negotiations, Israel and Hamas were far apart on the number of imprisoned Palestinians who would be exchanged for the hostages and on the duration of a cease-fire. Hamas has demanded an end to the war and the withdrawal of Israeli troops, while Israel insists that it will only agree to a temporary pause in the fighting.

The president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, called on Wednesday for Hamas to speed up an exchange of hostages for prisoners to spare Palestinian people further “catastrophe” in the war, according to Wafa, the Palestinian Authority’s official news agency.

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