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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has now issued a response to news, which first emerged on July 6, that Hamas has dropped its demand that Israel commit to not resuming its war in Gaza before Hamas would sign the U.S.-proposed ceasefire deal. News reports that day indicated that the Hamas concession had opened the way to the resumption of negotiations that could lead to an agreement that would stop the fighting, and also allow badly needed humanitarian aid into Gaza.

Instead, Netanyahu’s office issued a statement, late yesterday, with a list of four “non-negotiable” demands. The list, as reported by the Times of Israel, declares that:

1. “Any deal will allow Israel to return to fighting until its war aims are met.”

2. “Weapons smuggling to Hamas from the Gaza-Egypt border will not be possible.”

3. “The return of thousands of armed terrorists to the northern Gaza Strip will not be possible.”

4. “Israel will maximize the number of living hostages who will be returned from Hamas captivity.”

The statement mainstains that Netanyahu’s refusal to stop the IDF ground operation in Rafah “is what brought Hamas back to the negotiating table,” and that Netanyahu “continues to stand firmly behind the principles that have already been agreed by Israel.” The statement concludes that the “framework that was agreed by Israel and was welcomed by President Biden will enable Israel to return hostages without harming the other aims of the war.”

Netanyahu’s opponents wasted little time in accusing him of attempting to sabotage the ceasefire negotiations, which are otherwise expected to resume this week. “I have one response to the announcement from the Prime Minister’s Office: What is it good for? We are at a critical moment in the negotiations, the lives of the hostages depend on it; why issue such provocative messages?” Opposition Leader Yair Lapid said in a statement. “How does it contribute to the process?”

Times of Israel reported that the statement from Netanyahu’s office was met with anger by Israeli security officials and mediators, who, not for the first time, accused the prime minister of trying to sabotage the deal.

There were mass protests across Israel yesterday demanding that Netanyahu accept the hostage deal and that there be new elections. One large demonstration in Tel Aviv even featured the mother of one of the hostages in a cage, suspended above the crowd, to dramatize the demand for a deal. The acts of protest in two of Israel’s most populous cities were preceded by a day of action across the country, during which protesters blocked highways and held rallies outside the homes of government ministers, including Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, Foreign Minister Israel Katz, and Knesset Speaker Amir Ohana, reported TOI. There was an attempt at a march on Netanyahu’s home but it was blocked by police barriers.

An unnamed official, from an unnamed mediating country, charged that Netanyahu was trying to sabotage the hostage deal. “Statements like the one made by the prime minister severely harm efforts to maintain that ambiguity,” the senior official reportedly said. “One cannot help but conclude that they are being made for purely political purposes,” the official said, referencing Netanyahu’s desire to appease far-right coalition partners who oppose the hostage deal under discussion.