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Biden speaks with Middle East leaders after hostage deal

President Biden on Wednesday spoke with multiple leaders in the Middle East after the U.S. helped broker a deal between Israel and Hamas to release hostages and agree to a temporary pause in fighting.

Biden spoke by phone with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Amir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad al Thani of Qatar and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the White House said. Biden discussed the hostage deal with all three leaders.

Biden told Al-Sisi that “under no circumstances will the United States permit the forced relocation of Palestinians from Gaza or the West Bank, or the besiegement of Gaza, or the redrawing of the borders of Gaza,” according to a readout of the call.

In the call with Netanyahu, the two leaders “agreed that the work is not yet done and the President assured the Prime Minister that he will continue working to secure the release of all remaining hostages.”

Biden agreed to remain in touch with each of the leaders in the coming days, according to readouts provided by the White House.

Qatar, Egypt and Israel were each integral in the deal that was announced late Tuesday to release 50 women and children who were kidnapped by Hamas.

Israel and Hamas agreed to implement a temporary cease-fire for four days to allow for the safe transfer of hostages and the delivery of humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip. The release of hostages is expected to trigger the release of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails, per a Hamas demand. 

The cessation of fighting, what the administration is calling a “humanitarian pause,” can be extended beyond the four days if Hamas identifies and shows a willingness to release more hostages, officials have said.

Calls between the U.S., Israel, Qatar and Egypt have taken place daily, sometimes hourly over the course of the month and a half of the ordeal, with Biden “directly and personally engaged in this process,” a senior U.S. official told reporters Tuesday. 

Biden has staunchly backed Israel in the wake of the Oct. 7 terrorist attacks carried out by Hamas that left more than 1,000 Israelis dead. 

The White House has rebuffed mounting calls from some progressives for a cease-fire in Gaza as Israel has responded with bombings and military operations that have killed thousands of Palestinians, arguing a cease-fire would benefit Hamas, the terrorist group that controls Gaza.

Instead, Biden and his team spent weeks pushing for humanitarian pauses like the one agreed to this week that would allow for aid to get into Gaza and for hostages and civilians to get out.

Updated at 5:21 p.m.

Source: The Hill

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