US says progress is being made on a deal to release remaining Israeli hostages, bring temporary stop to war

News & Politics

The U.S. is reportedly in the process of negotiating a potential agreement that would see Israel pausing military operations against Hamas in Gaza for two months. During that time, Hamas would be expected to release 100 hostages that were captured on October 7, according to the Associated Press.

The report noted that the information was revealed by two senior administration officials who wished to remain anonymous. The deal, if it goes through, would play out in two phases. The first phase would see the fighting stopped, allowing the remaining women, elderly, and wounded hostages to be released by the terrorist groups.

The second phase would play out over the following 30 days, where Israel would try to find a path for the remaining Israeli soldiers and civilian men to be released. The deal also reportedly calls for the Jewish state to allow more humanitarian aid into Gaza without conflict.

The New York Times reported on Saturday that President Joe Biden spoke with leaders of Egypt and Qatar over the phone on Friday. The two countries have served as intermediaries between Hamas and Israel since the conflict began in early October.

Biden is also expected to send CIA Director William Burns to Paris to speak with officials from Israel, Egypt, and Qatar. If all goes well in the meeting, Biden would then send Brett McGurk, the president’s Middle East coordinator, back over to the region to finalize the agreement, per the report.

After Biden’s conversation with Qatar’s prime minister, the White House released a statement on Friday that said “[b]oth leaders affirmed that a hostage deal is central to establishing a prolonged humanitarian pause in the fighting and ensure additional lifesaving humanitarian assistance reaches civilians in need throughout Gaza.”

“They underscored the urgency of the situation and welcomed the close cooperation among their teams to advance recent discussions.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released a statement on Sunday, reiterating his commitment to secure the release of the remaining hostages that were not released in November.

“As of today, we have returned 110 of our hostages and we are committed to returning all of them home,” Netanyahu said. “We are dealing with this and we are doing so around the clock, including now.”

While temporary ceasefires are being considered, there is currently no information on a long-term peace deal in the region.

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