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Israel claims UN resolution prompted Hamas to reject hostage deal

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Israeli officials on Tuesday lashed out at a UN Security Council resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza, claiming it had encouraged Hamas to reject a deal to free the Israeli hostages it is holding in the Palestinian enclave.

Monday’s UN resolution — which called for an immediate ceasefire and the immediate release of the hostages Hamas seized during its October 7 attack on Israel — passed after the US administration ignored Israeli pressure to veto it.

The US decision underscored the growing rift between US President Joe Biden’s administration and Israel’s rightwing government over the conduct of the war, which has taken a devastating toll on Gaza’s civilian population. Washington’s choice not to veto the resolution prompted Israel to cancel a visit by senior officials.

Israeli officials continued to criticise the US move on Tuesday, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claiming Hamas’s rejection on Monday of a separate US proposal for a hostage deal showed the “damage done by the UN Security Council’s resolution”.

Israel’s foreign minister Israel Katz says the US has made a ‘moral and ethical mistake’ by allowing the resolution to pass © Michael Kappeler/dpa

Israel’s foreign minister Israel Katz accused the US of making a “moral and ethical mistake” by allowing the resolution to pass.

“Hamas is building on the fact that . . . there will be a ceasefire without it needing to pay a thing,” he said in an interview with Israel’s Army Radio. “There was a message . . . to anyone on Hamas’s side that the US does not support Israel as much.”

Israeli media reported on Tuesday morning that following Hamas’s rejection of the US hostage deal proposal, Israel had recalled its negotiators from Doha, where talks have been taking place — mediated by Qatar and Egypt — on a truce and hostage releases.

However, Qatar’s foreign ministry spokesperson Majed Al-Ansari said in Doha that the talks were “ongoing” and that the UN resolution had not immediately affected them.

A person briefed on the talks said officials from Israel’s Mossad spy agency remained in Doha and that only a small Mossad team was returning to Israel for consultations on developments in the talks.

The US, Qatar and Egypt have spent months trying to mediate a deal between Israel and Hamas to halt the war to secure the release of the more than 100 Israeli hostages held in Gaza.

But the mediators have struggled to make progress as wide gaps remain between the parties, including Hamas’s demand that any deal ends with a permanent ceasefire and the withdrawal of Israeli troops from Gaza, a call that Israel has repeatedly rejected.

Monday’s decision by the US to abstain from the Security Council resolution vote was the most high-profile breach between the US and Israel at the UN since 2016, and contrasted with the US’s repeated vetoing of resolutions calling for a ceasefire earlier in the war.

The US’s change in tack followed weeks of mounting frustration in Washington over the way Netanyahu’s government has been conducting the war. The US has publicly opposed Israeli plans for a military operation in Rafah, the southern Gazan town sheltering hundreds of thousands of people who fled from fighting elsewhere in the enclave.

Israel launched its assault on Gaza after Hamas militants stormed into the country on October 7, killing 1,200 people and taking a further 250 hostage, according to Israeli officials.

Israel’s retaliatory offensive has so far killed about 32,000 people in Gaza, according to Palestinian officials, as well as displacing more than 1.7mn of its 2.3mn inhabitants and fuelling a humanitarian catastrophe.

The UN has warned that northern Gaza risks “imminent famine” and said last week that 1.1mn people across the besieged strip faced “catastrophic levels of food insecurity”, adding to international pressure for Israel to agree to an immediate ceasefire.

Netanyahu has repeatedly said Israel will not stop its offensive until it has destroyed Hamas.

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