President Biden said Monday the United States is working on brokering a deal that would lead to a release of hostages being held by Hamas in Gaza that could lead to a six-week pause in fighting in order to give officials more time to find “something more enduring.”
Biden said he discussed the ongoing negotiations, which involve the U.S., Israel, Egypt and Qatar, during a meeting with King Abdullah II of Jordan, who was at the White House on Monday.
“As the king and I discussed today, the United States is working on hostage deal between Israel and Hamas, which would bring an immediate and sustained period of calm to Gaza for at least six weeks,” Biden said. “Which we could then take the time to build something more enduring.”
“The key elements of the deal are on the table. There’s gaps that remain, but I’ve encouraged Israeli leaders to keep working to achieve the deal. The United States will do everything possible to make it happen,” he said.
The president and Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have increasingly grown apart publicly about the direction of the war, with Biden continually asking Israel to be mindful of civilian casualties and calling Israel’s response in Gaza “over the top.” Israel has, more than once, targeted areas of Gaza that it told Palestinians to flee to as it works to reach its stated goal of eliminating Hamas, the most recent being the targeting of Rafah, which is currently holding more than 1 million people.
Netanyahu earlier this month rejected Hamas’s proposal for a hostage deal, which would have secured the release of Israeli hostages in exchange for a pause in fighting and other hard-line conditions. The framework laid out called for the withdrawal of all Israeli troops from Gaza.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken last week, while in Tel Aviv, said Hamas’s response included “clear non-starters” but said there’s an opening for ongoing negotiations.
Hamas is holding more than 100 hostages that it kidnapped from Israel during its Oct. 7 attack, with at least 32 hostages killed but their bodies or remains still in Gaza.
A deal reached in November, which the U.S. had a major hand in brokering, led to a weeklong pause in fighting during which Hamas released more than 100 hostages and Israel released more than 200 Palestinian prisoners. That deal was structured for women and children to be released and was considered at the time to include an expectation for future releases.
Source: The Hill