Hamas ‘open’ to more ceasefire talks: Palestinian official

PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES: Hamas still wants to discuss a ceasefire in its war with Israel, a Palestinian official close to the militant group told AFP Thursday, despite a rejection of its initial offer.Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday dismissed the organisation’s ceasefire proposal, calling it “bizarre” and vowing to press on with military action until “total victory”.The Palestinian official said a Hamas delegation would meet Egyptian officials in Cairo from Thursday, who would then work with Qatari representatives to find more common ground.”We expect the negotiations to be very complex and difficult but Hamas is open to discussions and the movement is keen to reach a ceasefire,” added the official, who is familiar with the negotiations.”The two parties will hold several rounds of negotiations indirectly,” he said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak on this sensitive issue.US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has met Netanyahu and other top Israeli officials on his latest visit to the region to try to broker a deal.He called on Wednesday for Israel to tone down its rhetoric as the war, sparked by Hamas fighters’ deadly attack on southern Israel on October 7, entered its fifth month.On the Israeli side, some 1,160 people died, while 250 hostages were taken, according to an AFP tally based on official Israeli figures. Israel says 132 are still in Gaza, and 29 are thought to be dead.

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