TEL AVIV, Israel (NEWSnet/AP) — The viability of a U.S.-backed proposal to wind down the war in Gaza was cast into doubt Monday after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he would only agree to a “partial” cease-fire deal.

His comments, made during a television interview Sunday, sparked an uproar from families of hostages held by Hamas.

In an interview that aired late Sunday on Israeli Channel 14, a conservative, pro-Netanyahu station, the Israeli leader said he was “prepared to make a partial deal — this is no secret — that will return to us some of the people,” referring to the roughly 120 hostages still held in the Gaza Strip.

“But we are committed to continuing the war after a pause, in order to complete the goal of eliminating Hamas. I’m not willing to give up on that.”

Netanyahu’s comments did not deviate dramatically from what he has said previously about his terms for a deal. But they come at a sensitive time as Israel and Hamas appear to be moving further apart over the latest cease-fire proposal, and could represent another setback for mediators trying to end the war.

The plan, which U.S. President Joe Biden introduced late last month, was a three step proposal that would result in the release of the remaining hostages in exchange for hundreds of Palestinians imprisoned by Israel.

But disputes and mistrust persist between Israel and Hamas over how the deal plays out.

Hamas has insisted it will not release the remaining hostages unless there’s a permanent cease-fire and a full withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza. Netanyahu says Israel is still committed to destroying Hamas’ military and governing capabilities, and ensuring it can never again carry out an Oct. 7-style assault.

In the meantime, Netanyahu said he expects fewer troops would be needed in Gaza, freeing up forces to battle Hezbollah.

“We will have the possibility of transferring some of our forces north, and we will do that,” he said in the TV channel interview.

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