Israel, Hamas, and Qatar Downplay Biden’s Hopes for a Potential Cease-Fire in Gaza

On Tuesday, U.S. President Joe Biden hinted that a new agreement for a cease-fire and hostage release in the five-month Israel battle with Hamas terrorists would be struck soon. However, Israel, Hamas, and Qatari mediators all downplayed his notion. Hamas is debating an offer for a cease-fire that would be the first prolonged cease-fire in the war, one that was approved by Israel during discussions with mediators in Paris last week. The idea would pause combat for 40 days during the Muslim month of Ramadan. Now, this week in Qatar, representatives from both sides are attempting to iron out the details.

 

Reuters was informed by a Hamas official that “there are still big gaps to be bridged.” The lack of clarity around the cease-fire and Israeli forces’ withdrawal is one of the biggest obstacles preventing an agreement from being reached. Biden’s hope for a cease-fire was not immediately addressed by Israel, but official spokesperson Tal Heinrich stated that any agreement would still need Hamas to abandon “outlandish demands, in another orbit, another planet.” “We’re ready. However, it is still unclear if Hamas is willing, the speaker stated. Senior Israeli officials who asked to remain anonymous were cited by the Israeli news website Ynet as stating that they had no idea “what [Biden’s] optimism is based on.

 

In a later interview with comedian Seth Meyers on his late-night NBC show, Biden expressed his hope that a cease-fire would be achieved by March 4. He also mentioned that Ramadan is approaching on March 10 and that the Israelis had agreed to refrain from any activities during that time in order to give us more time to free all 100 or so hostages. One source close to the negotiations claims that under the terms of the Paris proposal, Israel would withdraw its troops from populated areas in the Mediterranean enclave, free hundreds of Palestinians imprisoned by Israel, and release some but not all of the hostages that Hamas is currently holding.

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