Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejects Gaza ceasefire deal after Cairo talks

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejects Gaza ceasefire deal after Cairo talks

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected Hamas's ceasefire proposals following discussions in Cairo.

Mr Netanyahu said that agreeing to such proposals would "leave Hamas intact" and allow the possibility of another attack in the future.

The conflict between Israel and the militant Palestinian group continues after it erupted on October 7 last year.

Meanwhile, a Hamas delegation visited Cairo on Saturday, where Egyptian state media reported "noticeable progress" in ceasefire negotiations.

But a senior Israeli official downplayed the chances of fully ending the war while stressing Israel's intent to invade Rafah, a southern Palestinian city.

Egyptian and Hamas officials said the deal would extend a pause in fighting in exchange for the release of Israeli hostages held by Hamas. However, there's disagreement over whether the deal should end the war and include a complete withdrawal of Israeli troops from Gaza.

Mr Netanyahu further lowered expectations on Sunday by accusing Hamas of making unacceptable demands.

While claiming that Israel has shown willingness to make concessions, he said: "Hamas has still held to its extreme positions, first and foremost the withdrawal of our forces from the strip, the conclusion of the war and leaving Hamas intact."

"Israel will not agree to Hamas's demands, which would mean surrender; it will continue fighting until all of its objectives are achieved," he added.

It came as Mr Netanyahu’s cabinet shut down Al Jazeera's operations in Israel for as long as the war in Gaza continues, on the grounds the Qatari television network threatens national security.

"The incitement channel Al Jazeera will be closed in Israel," Mr Netanyahu posted on social media following the unanimous cabinet vote.

A government statement said Israel's communications minister signed orders to "act immediately," but at least one lawmaker who supported the closure said Al Jazeera could still try to block it in court.

The measure, the statement said, will include closing Al Jazeera's offices in Israel, confiscating broadcast equipment, cutting off the channel from cable and satellite companies and blocking its websites.

The network is funded by the Qatari government and has been fiercely critical of Israel's military operation in Gaza, from where it has reported around the clock throughout the war. The Israeli statement did not mention Al Jazeera's Gaza operations.

Israel's parliament last month ratified a law allowing the temporary closure in Israel of foreign broadcasters considered to be a threat to national security.

Al Jazeera made no immediate comment on Sunday, although it has previously rejected accusations that it was a threat to Israel's security and said the shutdown was an effort to silence it.

The law allows Mr Netanyahu and his security cabinet to shut the network's offices in Israel for 45 days, a period that can be renewed, so it could stay in force until the end of July or until the end of major military operations in Gaza.

Qatar, which hosts Hamas leaders, is trying to mediate a ceasefire and hostage release deal that could halt the Gaza war