Hamas Rejects Another Hostage Release Deal

Biden’s pressure on Israel signals to Hamas it can act with impunity.

What’s happening: After weeks of hostage negotiations, Hamas has rejected every offer put on the table by the Americans and Israelis.

The details: Hamas’s original position that it would not agree to anything that did not include a permanent end to the war, Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, the return of Gazans to the north of the strip, and the release of terrorists held by Israel, remains unchanged.

  • Context: Israel called these demands “delusional.” After it appeared Hamas may soften its position through negotiations, Hamas decided it would not accept anything less than the original demands.

  • The offer: Israel was willing to agree to a prolonged, yet temporary, ceasefire. They would allow some Gazans back to the north and would exchange 700 Palestinian terrorists for 40 Israeli hostages.

Important: In recent months, President Joe Biden has been putting significant public and private pressure on Israel not to attack Rafah — Hamas’s last stronghold — and urgently pursue a ceasefire deal.

  • Consequences: If Hamas knows Israel and the US are desperate for a deal, it puts Hamas in a stronger negotiating position to make unreasonable demands.

  • Beyond the headlines: The increasingly Israel-critical path pursued by the Americans also signals that if Hamas waits long enough, it can likely survive the war without any temporary ceasefires. The American clock of patience for Israel is ticking down quickly.

  • Alternative: A credible Israeli military threat against Rafah with strong American backing — rather than a ceasefire deal — could have pressured Hamas enough to facilitate an agreement.