Biden sees an agreement between Israel and Hamas to release hostages in exchange for a pause in the offensive in Gaza | International
An agreement between Israel and Hamas for the release of hostages in Gaza in exchange for a pause in Israeli bombing in the Strip seems close. The American president, Joe Biden, himself expressed this opinion this Monday; Asked at the White House if a pact in that regard would be announced soon, he responded: “I think so.” Negotiations to guarantee the departure of some of the nearly 240 hostages that Hamas has held in Gaza since its incursion into Israel on October 7 appear to have entered their final stage, and senior US officials do not hide their optimism about the possibility that they can a pact be announced in a matter of days. Something that is also expected in Brussels. An agreement that would allow the release of 50 detainees in exchange for a cessation of fighting for four or five days.
“We believe we are the closest we have gotten at any time since these negotiations began weeks ago,” White House deputy national security adviser Jon Finer said on Sunday. State of the Union from the CNN television network.
For his part, the coordinator for strategic affairs of the National Security Council, John Kirby, indicated this Monday at a press conference that they continue to “work every hour” to achieve the release of the hostages. “We remain hopeful, but there is still work to do, and nothing can be taken for granted,” Kirby stressed with a call for caution. However, he has also stated that he considered the negotiations to be nearing their end.
The American president himself has given wings to this idea with his brief response to a question from the press in the gardens of the White House, after the traditional "pardon" ceremony for a couple of turkeys - who will thus be guaranteed to live the rest of their lives. their days in a shelter, and not end up served at a family meal – on the eve of Thanksgiving.
Biden had already confirmed the existence of these conversations last week, after his summit with the president of China, Xi Jinping, on the outskirts of San Francisco. Then, in a press conference, the White House tenant had declared that he himself had been “deeply involved in advancing the hostage negotiation.” “We have gotten great cooperation from the Qataris,” he added. A nod from his Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, caused the American president to interrupt himself just as he said: "The pause and what the Israelis have agreed to depends on...". Afterwards, he refused to continue, arguing that he was giving “too many details”: “I know, Mr. Secretary, I'll stop here.”
American negotiator Brett McGurk, White House coordinator for Middle East affairs, has been in the region since last week to pace the negotiations. McGurk met this weekend with the Prime Minister of Qatar, Mohamed bin Abdulrahman bin Yasim al Zani, to address some pending issues, including monitoring compliance with the pact and the entry of humanitarian aid into the Strip, which Israel fears. that it could go to Hamas instead of the civilians who need it.
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Talks have been underway for weeks. They were interrupted following Israel's attack on Al Shifa hospital, the largest in Gaza, although they have since been restored.
In the EU, where they have intensified the diplomatic offensive to try to ensure that aid reaches Gaza and that the "humanitarian pauses" begin "immediately", there is hope that the agreement that also entails the release of hostages will occur soon. The president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, has traveled these days to Jordan and Egypt (where she also visited the Rafah crossing to the Strip) to discuss the situation in the Middle East. Meanwhile, the high representative for Foreign Policy and Security, Josep Borrell, has visited Israel and Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank, where he has met with the Israeli Government and the Palestinian National Authority; in addition to other countries in the region such as Bahrain or Saudi Arabia, key players in the area. In the background, a meeting with Mediterranean countries is being prepared in Barcelona whose main topic will be Israel's war against Hamas.
The EU has not achieved unanimity to demand a ceasefire for the besieged Gaza, but it has achieved unanimity to demand these “immediate pauses.” While the majority of Western partners demand that the hostages be released first and then these pauses begin; Arab countries - the connection with Gaza is very difficult and is done through Qatar - demand that it be the other way around.
The situation in the Strip is catastrophic. Humanitarian aid (Brussels has quadrupled it to 100 million euros) arrives in dribs and drabs through the Rafah crossing and the EU demands that other channels be opened that should be activated when the humanitarian pauses begin.
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