Hamas political chief Ismail Haniyeh on Sunday accused Israel’s prime minister of sabotaging efforts by mediators involved in ongoing talks aimed at a truce and hostage exchange in Gaza.

Qatar-based Haniyeh said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wanted to “invent constant justifications for the continuation of aggression, expanding the circle of conflict, and sabotaging efforts made through various mediators and parties”.

Qatari, Egyptian and US mediators met a Hamas delegation in Cairo on Saturday in the latest bid to halt the devastating almost seven-month-old war that has triggered worldwide protests.

A senior Hamas source close to the negotiations told AFP there would be “a new round” of talks on Sunday.

Negotiators seeking to halt the devastating war have proposed an initial 40-day pause in the fighting and an exchange of hostages for Palestinian prisoners.

Haniyeh said Hamas had approached the talks with “seriousness and positivity” but questioned “the meaning of an agreement if a ceasefire is not its first result”.

Earlier Netanyahu had rejected Hamas’s demand to end the war.

Israel was “not ready to accept a situation in which the Hamas battalions come out of their bunkers, take control of Gaza again, rebuild their military infrastructure, and return to threaten the citizens of Israel”, he said.

Egypt, Qatar and the United States have been trying to mediate an agreement between Israel and Hamas for months.

The Qatar-based leader of Hamas’s political office said the United States had “provided cover for this occupation, should be the one to stop it instead of supplying it with weapons of destruction and extermination”.

Haniyeh added that Hamas “remains eager to reach a comprehensive and interconnected agreement in stages, ending the aggression, ensuring withdrawal, and achieving a serious prisoner exchange deal”.

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