The indirect negotiations for a ceasefire in the Gaza war appear to have reached a dead end. According to media reports, the Israeli negotiating delegation was ordered back from Qatar except for a small team, which led to blame between the USA and Israel.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, according to his office: “Hamas’ position clearly proves that it is not interested in continuing negotiations on a deal and is sad evidence of the damage caused by the UN Security Council’s decision.” The US government promptly rejected his statement: The statement that Hamas rejected the latest proposal in the hostage negotiations because of the UN resolution was “inaccurate in almost every way, and it is unfair to the hostages and their families “said US State Department spokesman Matthew Miller in Washington.

The day before, the UN Security Council had called for an “immediate ceasefire” in the Gaza Strip for the first time since the start of the war with a resolution that was binding under international law. The USA had waived its right of veto. The background is the catastrophic humanitarian situation in Gaza and fears of an Israeli ground offensive in the city of Rafah, located in the south of the sealed-off coastal area on the border with Egypt. Hamas then said it was maintaining its demand for a comprehensive ceasefire in the negotiations, including a full Israeli withdrawal from Gaza.

Hamas has “rejected all US compromise proposals while celebrating the Security Council resolution,” Netanyahu said. US State Department spokesman Miller emphasized, however, that Hamas had already prepared its response to the latest negotiation proposal before the vote in the UN Security Council and not after the vote.

Israel’s defense minister for talks in Washington

The dispute over the deadlock is likely to put additional strain on the already tense relations between Netanyahu and the government of US President Joe Biden. Israeli Defense Minister Joav Galant met with US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in Washington on Tuesday to defuse the situation. “Negotiations over the hostages and Hamas’ positions require us to join hands in our military and diplomatic efforts and increase pressure on Hamas,” Galant said at the start of the meeting with Austin, according to the Pentagon. In the joint conversation, Austin emphasized that the United States and Israel have a “moral obligation” to protect the civilian population in Gaza. There is also a “strategic interest” in it.

The US government had recently clearly warned Israel several times against a ground offensive in Rafah. President Biden even called for Israel to send a delegation to Washington, also to explain alternatives. However, Netanyahu angrily canceled his envoy’s visit at the last minute on Monday after the UN Security Council, with the help of the US, passed the resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire.

Report: Calls in Israel for more independence from the USA

Washington’s decision to allow the resolution to pass encouraged populist voices in Israel who were calling for the country’s greater independence from American influence, wrote the Wall Street Journal. “Israel has become overly dependent on American weapons in particular,” Caroline Glick, an Israeli columnist and former adviser to Netanyahu, told the US newspaper. Israeli Defense Minister Galant recently committed himself in a letter to the US government to only use US weapons in accordance with international law. When asked whether the United States had concluded that Israel had not violated international law, State Department spokesman Miller said there was no final assessment yet and that the process was ongoing.

Report: Negotiations are likely to continue despite the impasse

At the weekend, senior representatives of the mediators Qatar, Egypt and the USA met in the Qatari capital Doha with the Israeli delegation led by the head of the foreign intelligence service Mossad, David Barnea, to try to negotiate a ceasefire and the release of hostages to move forward. On Monday it was said that Israel had agreed to approach Hamas and release a few hundred more Palestinian prisoners than had previously been agreed in exchange for 40 Israeli hostages. That night, Hamas announced that it was sticking to its call for a comprehensive ceasefire. This made it clear “that we are at a dead end and that Hamas does not want to move forward, regardless of Israel’s willingness to compromise,” the news portal “Axios” quoted an Israeli official as saying.

Shortly afterwards, Barnea ordered most of his negotiating team home. However, according to Israeli media, he left a small team in Qatar to continue the talks. The US government, Qatar and Egypt assessed the current situation as merely a “pause” in the talks and expected negotiations to resume in a few days, Axios quoted a source familiar with the matter as saying. The Israeli delegation returned home for internal consultations. “Everyone wants to continue the talks, so we don’t think it’s over,” the source said.

Israel continues bombing Gaza

Meanwhile, the Israeli military continues the bombing of the Gaza Strip. Over the past day, warplanes have attacked more than 60 targets in the coastal area, the army said. It also confirmed the killing of Gaza’s third most senior Hamas leader, Marwan Issa, in an airstrike two weeks ago. “We have checked all intelligence information and have reached certainty,” said army spokesman Daniel Hagari. Issa and another Hamas leader were killed in a “complex and precise attack” by the Israeli Air Force. Israel reported two weeks ago about the attack on a tunnel where Issa was suspected, but did not want to confirm his death at the time.

An Israeli woman kidnapped by Hamas in the Gaza Strip has become the first victim of the Islamists to speak publicly about the sexual abuse and torture she suffered there. During her captivity, she was repeatedly exposed to physical attacks, torture, humiliation and frightening situations, the 40-year-old told the New York Times. She was released at the end of November, when Israel and Hamas exchanged 110 hostages for around 400 Palestinian prisoners.

Terrorists from Hamas and other extremist groups attacked southern Israel on October 7th. They killed 1,200 people and kidnapped 250 to Gaza. It was the trigger for the war.