Gaza negotiations stall again; Japan considering resuming funding for UNRWA

Negotiations between Israel and Hamas are growing increasingly uncertain with the two sides unable to agree on the terms of a ceasefire and hostage release.

Talks have been continuing in Qatar, a mediator for the negotiations, since March 18.

Hamas said on Monday that it had informed mediators that it will "stick to its original position" of demanding a permanent ceasefire and the withdrawal of Israeli troops from Gaza.

Israeli media outlets said Hamas rejected the proposals by Israel and the mediators.

The Israeli prime minister's office also said on Tuesday: "Hamas has once again rejected an American compromise proposal and has repeated its extreme demands. Israel will not address Hamas's delusional demands."

Israeli media earlier reported progress in the negotiations. They had said Israel was moving to meet Hamas's demands regarding the number of Palestinians to be freed from Israeli prisons in exchange for the release of hostages.

On Tuesday, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh met with Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and others to discuss the situation in Gaza. Iran is a supporter of Hamas.

The Hamas leader said, "We are going through a historic stage" and a "turning point" in the fight against Israel.

Meanwhile, the Japanese government is arranging a possible resumption of funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East as early as April.

Japan suspended funding to UNRWA in January after suspicions surfaced that some of the UN agency's staff members were involved in Hamas's attack on Israel last October.

The Japanese government is focusing on UNRWA's organizational reforms to decide whether to resume funding.

It notes that an independent investigative group published an interim report last week confirming that improvements had been made, and that UNRWA has also indicated that it will strengthen its governance.

Japan's Foreign Minister Kamikawa Yoko is scheduled to meet with UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini in Tokyo on Thursday before making a final decision.