(JTA) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office denied reports that Israel has been negotiating with Hamas.
A statement from his office Monday was in response to media reports claiming that direct talks took place recently and were in their final stages.
“Israel officially clarifies that there have been no meetings with Hamas. Not directly, not through another country and not through intermediaries,” the statement said, the Times of Israel reported.
Hours earlier, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said that direct talks between Israel and Hamas took place recently in an African country. The same day, Haaretz quoted a Turkish official saying that Israel and Hamas are in the final stages of negotiating a long-term truce that would end Israel’s naval blockade on Gaza in exchange for an end to Hamas attacks on Israel.
Based on Arabic-language news sources, Israeli newspapers had reported that the agreement has been approved by the Shura Council, Hamas’ legislative body, and that former British prime minister Tony Blair is mediating the accord, with Hamas negotiating in partnership with Turkey and Qatar.