Hamas Leader Ismail Haniyeh Jet-Sets to Egypt from Luxury Qatar Hideout

Ismail Haniyeh
Amine Chikhi/APP/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh left his luxury accommodations in Qatar on Wednesday to visit Egypt, ostensibly to bring his personal authority to negotiations with Israel.

Haniyeh’s presence apparently did not count for much, because Hamas reportedly went on to reject Israel’s offer of a one-week pause in fighting in exchange for 40 hostages, including all of the women and children still held by the Palestinian terrorist organization.

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Reuters noted on Wednesday that Haniyeh supposedly stays out of public “diplomacy” unless “progress seems likely.” The only ceasefire in the Gaza war to date began after Haniyeh made his previous trip to Egypt in November. In that deal, Israel paused operations for a week, while Hamas released 110 hostages.

Hamas still holds an estimated 108 living hostages. Israel reportedly offered another one-week pause, plus more Palestinian prisoners released and more humanitarian aid for Gaza, if Hamas would release 40 of them. Hamas envoys were reportedly discussing which hostages they might be willing to free when Haniyeh traveled to Cairo to join them.

The Biden administration sent its usual mixed signals while Haniyeh huddled with his representatives in Egypt. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said another ceasefire-for-hostages agreement was “something we’d very much like to see happen,” while President Joe Biden said he did not think such a deal was likely.

Reports indicated that Hamas rejected Israel’s offer and staked out a maximalist position. The terrorists allegedly said they require a unilateral permanent ceasefire from Israel before negotiations can begin and demanded the release of every one of the thousands of Palestinians imprisoned in Israel – with due process, for actual crimes, unlike the innocents Hamas kidnapped.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seemed confident in his country’s self-defense operations in Gaza on Tuesday.

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“We’re continuing the war to the end. It will continue until Hamas is destroyed – until victory, until all the goals we set are met: destroying Hamas, releasing our hostages and removing the threat from Gaza,” Netanyahu vowed.

Netanyahu stressed that bringing hostages home was the top priority, as did Israeli President Isaac Herzog in a Tuesday meeting with foreign ambassadors.

“Israel is ready for another humanitarian pause and additional humanitarian aid in order to enable the release of hostages,” Herzog said.

Hamas might be banking on pressure against Israel from the international community to save it. The Biden administration is reportedly increasingly uncomfortable with civilian casualties in Gaza, while the United Nations keeps orbiting around a resolution that would demand “suspension of hostilities” plus greatly increased humanitarian aid deliveries.

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The U.S. has been able to delay such a U.N. vote three times so far, in part because the resolution would put the U.N. in sole charge of the aid trucks and the Israelis are unlikely to place total faith in the U.N. to ensure nothing dangerous gets smuggled in through the convoys.

Haniyeh met with Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian in Qatar before departing for Egypt, possibly receiving assurances that the pressure against Israel will keep ratcheting up, including the pressure from Iran’s proxies in Yemen shutting down Red Sea shipping. The world’s economy is not in great shape to absorb increased costs from this assault on shipping, especially if it interferes with the flow of oil.

Negotiations in Egypt will reportedly soon include Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a smaller terrorist group that assisted Hamas with the October 7 atrocities.


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