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Biden pushes back on Gaza question during Zelensky presser

President Biden on Thursday pushed back on a reporter’s line of questioning about the Gaza cease-fire proposal during his press conference with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

A reporter asked Biden for an assessment of Hamas’s response to the proposal and to describe his message to allies at the Group of Seven (G7) summit about the U.S.’s work toward a peace agreement.

“Wish you guys would play by the rules a little bit,” Biden replied. “I’m here to talk about a critical situation in Ukraine, you asked me another subject. I’ll be happy to answer in detail later.”

The president added that “the biggest hang up so far is Hamas refusing to sign on, even though they have submitted something similar.”

“We’re going to continue to push. I don’t have a final answer for you,” he said.

The White House Correspondents Association (WHCA) said in a statement after the president’s pushback that “there are no preconditions regarding question topics” and “professional journalists decide what to ask.”

“Any leader may prefer that reporters ask only one question or ask only about a topic that is of most interest to the president or another world leader, but a free press functions independently,” WHCA president Kelly O’Donnell said.

Earlier Thursday, Biden was asked in Italy about the proposal and told reporters it was discussed among allies at the summit.

When asked if he’s confident they will get a deal soon, he said, “No,” adding, “I haven’t lost hope.”

“Hamas has to move,” he said.

The Biden administration earlier this week said it was evaluating a response from Hamas for the deal, which would halt fighting with Israel in the Gaza Strip. The United Nations Security Council also has passed a U.S.-drafted resolution that laid out the three phases of a temporary cease-fire deal with a pathway toward a permanent end to hostilities. 

The cease-fire proposal was announced by Biden last month and was characterized at the time as having originated with Israel, although Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has offered vague assurances of Israel’s commitment to the proposal.

Updated at 5:02 p.m.


Source: The Hill

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