Hamas presents rigid front in hostage talks, Israeli officials point fingers at Biden

Jerusalem hasn't decided on joining Cairo talks, yet Mossad chief Barnea likely to attend; Hamas demands 'full IDF withdrawal'; Israel links tensions with the US to Hamas actions and criticizes Qatar's 'playing both sides'

CIA Director William Burns, Qatar's Prime Minister Mohammed Al-Thani and Egyptian spy chief Abbas Kamel are set to meet in Cairo on Sunday for a summit on a Gaza cease-fire, amid expectations that Mossad Director David Barnea will also participate.
The meeting's goal remains uncertain as Israel deliberates its involvement, in light of Hamas's increasingly rigid position and its delayed response to the newest mediation offer.
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נשיא ארה"ב ג'ו ביידן
נשיא ארה"ב ג'ו ביידן
Hamas leader in Gaza Yahya Sinwar, US President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Some Israeli officials link Hamas' hardening stance to the crisis with U.S. President Joe Biden and his administration. Sources claim that Thursday’s call between Biden and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in which, according to the White House, the president did not link an immediate cease-fire to the release of hostages, sent a clear message to Hamas that a truce could be achieved without a deal.
Although the White House later clarified that there is no change in its policy and that a cease-fire must come with the release of hostages, Jerusalem is reluctant to participate in what it views as a "substance-less show."
Meanwhile, Jerusalem is growing increasingly frustrated with Qatar amid U.S. efforts to engage Doha and Cairo to press Hamas into accepting the mediation proposal, which, according to sources, includes significant concessions regarding the return of Gazan civilians to the northern Gaza Strip.
Sources indicate that Hamas rejecting the offer would imply the terror group is not interested in alleviating the plight of the Gaza population or releasing hostages but merely seeks an end to the war.
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עבאס כמאל, מוחמד א-תאני, ווילאם ברנס, דוד ברנע,
עבאס כמאל, מוחמד א-תאני, ווילאם ברנס, דוד ברנע,
Mossad Director David Barnea, Egyptian spy chief Abbas Kamel, CIA Director William Burns and Qatar's Prime Minister Mohammed Al-Thani
(Photo: Yariv Katz, AP, EPA)
Israel contends that Qatar has so far failed to pressure Hamas, expel any high-ranking members of the terrorist organization or freeze their assets. This perceived inaction led Prime Minister Netanyahu to expedite the closure of Al Jazeera's Israel operations after months of delay. According to sources, Qatar is essentially playing both sides and needs to apply pressure on Hamas.
Meanwhile, Hamas announced in an official statement Saturday afternoon that a delegation led by Khalil al-Haya, the deputy of the terror group’s leader in Gaza Yahya Sinwar, would head to Cairo for negotiation talks, following Egypt's invitation.
Hamas reaffirmed its stance presented to mediators last month, demanding a complete IDF withdrawal from Gaza and a comprehensive cease-fire. "These are natural demands to end the aggression, and we will not relinquish them," Hamas said.
"Our people and our national forces demand a complete halt of air strikes, IDF withdrawal from Gaza, rehousing the displaced, freedom of movement for civilians, provision of aid and shelter, ultimately leading to a prisoner exchange deal."
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