Israel Gaza: Biden hopes for a ceasefire by next week

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Watch: Biden spoke to reporters at an ice cream shop in New York

US President Joe Biden said he hopes to reach a ceasefire in the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza by Monday.

His statements come amid reports of some progress in indirect negotiations involving Israeli and Hamas officials.

This will include delivering aid to Gaza and releasing more hostages taken during the Hamas attacks on October 7.

Israel did not comment, and Hamas officials indicated that the two sides are not close to a ceasefire agreement, as Biden suggested.

Qatar, which is mediating the talks alongside Egypt, said it was “pushing hard” to reach an agreement and felt “optimistic”, but had nothing to announce.

Israel launched a large-scale air and ground campaign in Gaza after Hamas gunmen killed about 1,200 people in southern Israel.

The attackers also took 253 people hostage, a number of whom have since been released.

The Hamas-run Health Ministry in the Gaza Strip says at least 29,878 people have been killed in the Strip since then – including 96 deaths in the past 24 hours – as well as 70,215 wounded.

According to Reuters news agency, citing an unnamed source close to the talks, Hamas is still studying a draft framework, drafted by France, which will include a 40-day cessation of all military operations and the exchange of Palestinians detained in Israeli prisons for Israelis. Hostages by 10 to one.

“We are close,” President Biden told reporters in New York on Monday. He added, “We are not finished yet. I hope that we will reach a ceasefire by next Monday.”

Later on NBC's “Late Night With Seth Meyers,” the president said Israel would be prepared to halt its offensive during Ramadan if an agreement was reached.

The Islamic holy month begins around March 10.

Biden said: “The month of Ramadan is approaching, and there was an agreement among the Israelis that they would not participate in any activities during the month of Ramadan as well, in order to give us time to extract all the hostages.”

However, a Hamas official told the BBC: “The priority for us in Hamas is not to exchange detainees, but to stop the war.

He added, “It does not make sense, after all these losses of lives and property, to accept any offer that does not lead to a complete ceasefire, the return of the displaced, and the reconstruction of Gaza.”

Last week, the United States – Israel's main ally – was widely criticized for vetoing a UN Security Council resolution demanding an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. Instead, it proposed its own resolution for a temporary ceasefire “as soon as possible,” in which it also warned Israel of the consequences of invading the city of Rafah in southern Gaza “under the current circumstances.”

Israel is facing increasing international pressure not to launch an attack on Rafah, where about 1.5 million Palestinians live, most of whom fled the fighting north in the region.

“There are too many innocent people being killed,” Biden said on “Late Night with Seth Meyers.” He added: “Israel has slowed down the attacks in Rafah. They must do this. They pledged to me that they will make sure that there is the ability to evacuate large parts of Rafah before they go and remove what is left.” From Hamas.”

The Israeli Prime Minister's Office said on Sunday that it had received plans from his army to evacuate civilians from areas including Rafah.

Netanyahu said in an interview with CBS on Sunday that Israeli forces would eventually launch an invasion of Rafah regardless of any temporary ceasefire agreement, stressing: “We cannot leave the last stronghold of Hamas without taking care of it.”

“If we reach an agreement, it will be postponed somewhat,” he added. “But it will happen. If we don't have a deal, we'll do it anyway.”

In a separate development on Monday, Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh resigned along with his government, which administers parts of the occupied West Bank.

President Mahmoud Abbas accepted his decision, which may pave the way for the formation of a technocratic government.

Abbas is under pressure from the United States to reform the Palestinian Authority so that it can govern Gaza after the end of the war between Israel and Hamas.

Last week, Netanyahu presented a vision for the region that did not mention any role for the Palestinian Authority.

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