Benjamin Netanyahu rejects ceasefire demands that would 'leave Hamas intact' - as Israeli cabinet votes to close Al Jazeera office

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected ceasefire proposals because he says Hamas's call for a withdrawal of all troops from Gaza and an end to the war is unacceptable.

Mr Netanyahu said agreeing such proposals would "leave Hamas intact" and leave the possibility of another attack in future.

"Surrendering to the demands of Hamas would be a terrible defeat for the State of Israel," he said in a video statement.

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Mediated negotiations for a pause in the fighting in return for the release of hostages held by Hamas have been going on in Egypt, but a deal appears some way off.

Mr Netanyahu said Hamas was "entrenched in its extreme positions, first among them the demand to remove all our forces from the Gaza Strip, end the war, and leave Hamas in power".

He said it would allow more "massacres, rapes and kidnapping".

Hamas said in a statement it was "still keen to reach a comprehensive, interconnected agreement that ends the aggression, guarantees withdrawal, and achieves a serious prisoner exchange deal".

The group's chief, Ismail Haniyeh, blamed Mr Netanyahu of "sabotaging the efforts made through the mediators".

The impasse comes after Egyptian media reported "noticeable progress" in ceasefire talks on Saturday.

The proposal put to Hamas had set out a three-stage process for an immediate, six-week ceasefire and partial release of Israeli hostages, with some sort of Israeli pull-out in exchange.

There was a brief ceasefire and prisoner and hostage swap last year, but it did not turn into a longer-term truce.

Intense pressure is on Israel's government domestically to achieve a deal and get more hostages released, with families holding regular vigils and campaigning.

'Dangerous and ridiculous lie'

Mr Netanyahu also said on Sunday his cabinet had voted to close the local office of Qatar's state-owned news broadcaster Al Jazeera.

Israel claims the channel has collaborated with Hamas.

"Al Jazeera reporters harmed Israel's security and incited against soldiers," Mr Netanyahu said. "It's time to remove the Hamas mouthpiece from our country."

The channel called the claims a "dangerous and ridiculous lie" that threatens its reporters' safety and said it would pursue "every legal step".

"The background of this (shutdown) decision is not professional or journalistic... it's political," said Waleed Omari, bureau chief of Al Jazeera in Israel and the Palestinian territories.

As well as closing offices, an Israeli statement said it could also include blocking its broadcasts and website and confiscating equipment.

It comes after a law was passed last month allowing Israel to act against foreign channels that "harm" the country.

It's understood it allows for an initial 45-day closure which could then be renewed.

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The move is likely to worsen relations between Israel and Qatar - whose government has been playing a key role in negotiations to end the war.

One of the channel's reporters, Shireen Abu Akleh, was killed in an Israeli raid in the occupied West Bank two years ago.

It also says Israel has deliberately killed several of its staff who died in Gaza. Israel denies it targets journalists.

More than 34,600 Palestinians have been killed and more than 77,000 wounded in Israel's current military operation, according to Gaza's Hamas-controlled health ministry.

Israel has said it remains committed to a ground offensive in the southern city of Rafah, where more than a million have fled in search of safety, as it tries to wipe out Hamas.

Defence minister Yoav Gallant warned on Sunday that military actions in Rafah and other areas of Gaza would take place "in the very near future".

The UN and others have warned of catastrophe if it goes ahead.

The war began in October after Hamas killed about 1,200 people, according to Israeli figures, when it launched a surprise attack.

More than 200 were abducted and many remain as hostages, while others are thought to have died.