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‘It’s up to Hamas’ - Biden says ‘ceasefire would begin tomorrow’ if Israeli hostages released

Pressure on Israel appears to weaken over the weekend, following national security report

Israelis attend a rally calling for the release of Israelis held hostage by Hamas terrorists in Gaza, at "Hostage Square" in Tel Aviv, May 11, 2024. (Photo: Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90

While speaking at a fundraising event in Seattle, Washington on Saturday, U.S. President Joe Biden claimed a ceasefire would be possible “tomorrow” if Hamas was prepared to release the Israeli hostages.

“There would be a ceasefire tomorrow if Hamas released the hostages, women, the elderly, and the wounded,” Biden said at the fundraiser at the home of a former Microsoft executive. 

"As I’ve said, it’s up to Hamas – if they wanted to do it, we could end it tomorrow. And the ceasefire would begin tomorrow," Biden continued. 

The U.S. president's comments were made following indirect hostage negotiations between Israel and Hamas that broke down last week. 

After Hamas announced its acceptance of a ceasefire proposal, Israel claimed the deal agreed to by Hamas was not the same as the one it had approved. Israel stated that the U.S. allowed a different proposal to be submitted in order to prevent Israel from entering Rafah. 

Biden refrained from speaking about the situation in Gaza at previous fundraising events, however, at the start of this meeting, he told the crowd of around 100 people: “Before I begin, let me answer a question related to the hostages. I keep getting asked by the press and all the other folks out there.” 

After stating that a ceasefire was dependent on Hamas, the president reportedly said, “I guess I shouldn’t get into all this about Israel.” 

Biden also said that Israel has agreed to adhere to a ceasefire if Hamas releases the prisoners. 

About 130 hostages are believed to be in Gaza, held by Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and possibly by private citizens. Not all of the hostages are alive. 

Tensions between Israel and the U.S. rose last week after Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin confirmed that the U.S. was delaying weapons shipments to Israel over concerns they would be used in dense urban settings. The next day, Biden appeared to threaten Israel by withholding weapons to prevent a Rafah incursion. 

“I made it clear, that if they go into Rafah – they haven’t gone into Rafah yet – if they go into Rafah, I’m not going to supply the weapons that have been used historically to deal with Rafah,” Biden said during the CNN interview. 

The Israeli government has consistently stated that entering Rafah is an integral part of its objectives to defeat Hamas and bring the hostages back home.

White House pressure on Israel appears to have subsided somewhat following the release of an anticipated State Department report, which showed a lack of information to verify concerns over Israel's weapons use and its obligation to provide humanitarian aid to civilians in Gaza.

On Friday, the U.S. announced it would resume weapons shipment following the release of a national security report indicating Israel’s assurances to abide by international law were “credible and reliable.”

Following the breakdown in the negotiations to release the hostages, Israel resumed operations in the Gaza Strip, including limited operations within Rafah. 

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

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