Hamas has responded to comments made earlier by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
who said Hamas lost the conflict and is now attempting to make a political win in compensate for their loss.
"Netanyahu's comments about victory are farfetched," Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said, adding that Netanyahy was "compensating for his failure" and said the statements stemmed from "a need to feed media and avoid growing Israeli anger."
During the Cabinet's weekly meeting, Netanyahu said "If Hamas thinks that it can cover up its military loss with a diplomatic achievement, it is mistaken."
Netanyahu reiterated that the goal of current talks, as well as the Gaza operation, was "the restoration of quiet and security for all Israelis," and noted that "Only if there is a clear response to our security needs will we agree to reach understandings."
Netanyahu (Photo: Amil Salman, Haaretz)
Commenting on Netanyahu's remarks,
Abu Zuhri added that "The only way to achieve security is to afford security to the Palestinians first and to lift the blockade and to agree to their demands."
Inacuratly, the Hamas spokesperson said that "hundreds of (IDF) soldiers were killed and the actions of the resistance and rocket fire managed to hit deep into Israel, creating an aerial blockade of Israel." In fact, 64 soldiers were killed
during the operation.
Palestinian delegation (Photo: AFP)
On Saturday, Osama Hamdan, the head of Hamas's foreign affairs, said on Facebook: "Israel must accept the demands of the Palestinian people or face a long war."
Hamas official Izzat al-Risheq said Saturday that the organization has not agreed and will not agree to what was offered the Palestinian delegation before it left Cairo.
"We oppose any formulation that does not match the demands of the Palestinian people. There are many issues that the delegation did not agree to in what was offered," said al-Risheq, who represented Hamas in Cairo.
According to the prime minister, "In the past month Hamas has taken a severe military blow. We destroyed its network of tunnels that it took years to dig. We intercepted the rockets that it had massed in order to carry out thousands of deadly strikes against the Israeli home front. And we foiled the terrorist attacks that it tried to perpetrate against Israeli civilians – by land, sea and air."
Finance Minister Yair Lapid, who is also a member of the Security-Cabinet, said that "we must demand safety for Israel's residents. We must make sure that they feel safe and we cannot complete this operation without them feeling secure again."
Lapid further noted that "we must create an international mechanism to make sure they are safe."
Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz said that "the most important thing for Israel is the demand that Gaza be demilitarized." When asked about the Palestinian demand that Gaza get a seaport, the minister said such a port would be a "duty-free for rockets – and in the future Scuds (missiles).
"We will continue talks in Cairo, but we cannot give up on the issue of demilitarization."
Economy Minister Naftali Bennett, who is leading a group of ministers objecting to negotiations, called on Israel to leave talks, and implement the unilateral proposal he has been promoting for the last two weeks.
"The current situation in which we are biting our nails waiting for the response of a murderous terrorists group must end. We must stop the negotiations with Hamas and take our fate into our own hands: Humanitarian (aid) yes, terror no," Bennett said.
Tourism Minister Uzi Landau, a rightist from the Yisrael Beitenu party, slammed the government from the right, and said "Hamas is managing us, we are being led," he claimed,
"Israel is attempting to reach calm at any price. This is only a temporary calm. In all the previous rounds of fighting after calm was reached we got a more aggressive response. We are turning Hamas into an international player."
Talks in Cairo started again Sunday morning, with the Israeli delegation arriving while the Cabinet convened. The Egyptian government persuaded both sides late Wednesday to adhere to a new five-day ceasefire, extending an earlier three-day agreement in order to allow more time to thrash out a longer-term truce.
But to Egyptian dismay, Palestinians also seem to be playing down the chance a long-term agreement, as international efforts backing Egypt's proposal have been rising, indicating powers like the US and UN could try to pressure the sides to reach an agreement. The US has already offered Israel assurances over its security, a report claimed.
A member of the Palestinian delegation told The Associated Press on Sunday that the gaps between the sides were still significant and that it was far from certain whether a deal could be reached before the cease-fire expires.
"We are less optimistic than we were earlier," he said, his comments came after Hamas' political chief Khaled Mashal said Saturday his group would not back down from a single demand.
Al-Risheq's remarks joined earlier statements made by a senior Hamas official abroad, Ismail Radwan, who said Hamas refused to postpone deliberations on a seaport and airport – which according to the Egyptian proposal would not be discussed again until a month after an accord was signed.
Hamas' foreign leadership said Saturday evening that significant progress had yet to be achieved in the Cairo talks. "The draft presented this week by Egypt is not acceptable to us in any way, and it will not be the final formulation," Hamas said in a statement.
Reuters, Attila Somfalvi and Elior Levy contributed to this report