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Biden hopes ceasefire can be reached before Ramadan begins; Israeli officials pessimistic about potential hostage deal

Israel’s Channel 12 reports: Hamas leaders abroad say proposed hostage deal crosses 'red lines'

US President Joe Biden (Photo: Screenshot)

The White House, the U.S. State Department and the Israeli government do not seem to be equally optimistic about reaching a truce-for-hostages deal in Gaza before Ramadan begins on March 10.

Biden told reporters he hopes a deal can be made by the coming weekend.

“Well, I hope by the beginning of the weekend. The end of the weekend. My national security adviser tells me that we’re close. We’re close. We’re not done yet,” Biden said. “And my hope is that by next Monday [March 4] we’ll have a ceasefire,” he added.

The U.S. State Department was less optimistic.

“We believe a deal is possible and we hope Hamas will agree to one,” U.S. State Department Spokesman Matthew Miller said, adding that “we need Hamas to say yes.”

Israel is reportedly much less optimistic about a possible breakthrough in the hostage negotiations.

Israeli media has quoted senior Israeli officials saying the outline of a potential deal that was agreed upon in Paris by Israel, American, Egyptian and Qatari mediators on Friday “doesn’t correspond with Hamas demands.”

According to Israel’s Channel 12 news, Hamas leaders abroad said that the proposed deal crossed “red lines,” but Hamas still has not responded officially to the proposal.

According to the outline, the potential deal would include the release of 40 hostages, including, women, children, female soldiers, and elderly and abductees who are ill, in exchange for the release of hundreds of convicted Palestinian terrorists and a six-week pause in fighting.

According to Al Jazeera citing an unnamed source, Israel agreed to release 400 Palestinian terrorists, including those convicted of “heavy” crimes. Al Jazeera also claimed that Israel agreed to a gradual return of Palestinians to northern Gaza, except for those of “military service age” and more aid and temporary shelters being brought into Gaza, including heavy machinery.

Israel and Hamas reportedly cannot agree on the main issue: Hamas wants to maintain control of Gaza and is demanding a permanent ceasefire, whereas Israel has vowed to dismantle the terrorist organization.

“We’re totally committed to wipe Hamas off the face of the Earth,” Israel's Economy Minister Nir Barkat told Reuters at a conference in the United Arab Emirates.

Senior Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri told Reuters on Monday that any agreement would require “securing an end to the aggression, the withdrawal of the occupation, the returning of the displaced, the entry of aid, shelter equipment, and rebuilding.”

According to Reuters, an Israeli delegation of Mossad agents and IDF staff is currently in Qatar to participate in negotiations, including the vetting of proposed Palestinian terrorists who Hamas wants to be released in the deal.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel wants to make a deal and that it is up to Hamas to make realistic demands.

“They’re in another planet. But if they come down to a reasonable situation, then yes, we'll have a hostage deal. I hope so,” Netanyahu said.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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