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Biden Asks Pressure on Hamas in Hostage Talks – Politics –

Biden Asks Pressure on Hamas in Hostage Talks – Politics –


Secret Service Director Burns sits at the negotiating table for America
©APA/AFP

According to media reports, US President Joe Biden has privately asked mediators Qatar and Egypt to pressure the militant Palestinian group Hamas to agree to a deal to release Israeli hostages. A proposal calling for a six-week ceasefire and the release of 40 hostages is on the table, news website “Axios” reported Saturday night, citing a senior US official.

According to the Times of Israel newspaper, Biden urged Hamas to agree to such a deal in letters to the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Mousa Nasser al-Miznet, and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. According to Axios, the US wants to help the indirect talks reach a breakthrough this weekend in Cairo. To this end, CIA Director William Burns is scheduled to meet in the Egyptian capital with David Barnia, head of the Israeli foreign intelligence agency Mossad, and Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani and Egyptian Intelligence Minister Abbas Kamel.

The United States, Qatar and Egypt have been mediating for weeks between Israel and Hamas to reach a ceasefire and exchange hostages kidnapped from Israel on October 7, 2023 for Palestinian prisoners. According to Israeli estimates, nearly 100 people abducted by Hamas are still alive.

The hostages to be released under the deal include Israeli soldiers and other women, men over 50, and men in poor health, the well-known Israeli journalist Barak Ravit wrote in his Axios report. In exchange, Israel would release about 700 imprisoned Palestinians, including 100 serving life sentences for killing Israelis. US President Biden called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday to call for an “immediate” conclusion of the hostage-return deal.

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In the conversation, Biden asked Netanyahu to send his negotiators with a broader mandate than before to reach an agreement, considering the upcoming talks in Cairo this weekend, “Axios” quoted a senior US official as saying. Biden made it clear to Netanyahu that everything must be done to free the hostages who have been held in Gaza for six months.

On October 7 last year, more than 1,200 people were killed in an unprecedented massacre by terrorists from Hamas and other extremist groups in Israel. Israel responded with massive airstrikes and ground attacks. More than 33,000 people have died in Gaza, according to the Hamas-controlled health authority. The figure, which is difficult to independently verify, does not distinguish between militants and civilians.