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Netanyahu says Israel will return to table for ceasefire talks with Hamas

ISRAELI Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said today that his government will return to the table for ceasefire talks with Hamas.

The announcement marks yet another attempt to reach a deal with the militant group that would pause Israel’s brutal offensive in Gaza in exchange for the release of Israeli hostages.

Mr Netanyahu said he had spoken with Israel’s lead negotiators and authorised Israeli delegations to join talks in Qatar and Egypt over the coming days.

With the war now grinding through a sixth month, the United States, Qatar and Egypt have spent months trying to negotiate another ceasefire and hostage release. But those efforts have stalled.

Hamas has previously proposed a phased process in which it would release all the remaining hostages in exchange for an end to the war and full Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, the opening of its borders for aid and reconstruction, and the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners, including top militants serving life sentences.

Mr Netanyahu has called the demands delusional and vowed to resume Israel’s offensive after any hostage release and keep fighting until the militant group is destroyed.

Hamas is believed to be holding roughly 100 hostages, as well as the remains of about 30 people killed in the group’s October 7 attack or who died in captivity.

Meanwhile, the top United Nations court on Thursday ordered Israel to take measures to improve the humanitarian situation in Gaza, including opening more land crossings to allow food, water, fuel and other supplies into the war-ravaged enclave.

The International Court of Justice issued two new so-called provisional measures in a case brought by South Africa accusing Israel of acts of genocide in its military campaign.

Israel denies it is committing genocide and accused South Africa of trying to “undermine Israel’s inherent right and obligation to defend its citizens.”

Thursday’s order came after South Africa sought more provisional measures, including a ceasefire, citing starvation in Gaza.

Israel, which had urged the court not to issue new orders, said it places no limits on aid entering Gaza and vowed to “promote new initiatives” to bring in even more assistance.

In its legally binding order, the court told Israel to take measures “without delay” to ensure “the unhindered provision” of basic services and humanitarian assistance, including food, water, fuel and medical supplies.

It also ordered Israel to immediately ensure that its military does not take action that could harm Palestinians’ rights under the Genocide Convention, including by preventing the delivery of humanitarian assistance.

The court told Israel to report back in a month on its implementation of the orders.

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