Biden believes Gaza hostage release deal is near
US President Joe Biden said on Monday that he believes a deal is close to free hostages in Gaza, as hopes grew for a Qatari-brokered deal to release some prisoners in exchange for a pause in the fighting.
“I believe so,” said Biden, who was taking part in a Thanksgiving turkey pardon ceremony at the White House, when asked if a hostage deal was imminent.
Then Biden crossed his fingers to indicate that he hoped for good luck.
Qatar’s prime minister said on Sunday that an agreement to free some of the 240 hostages seized by Hamas in its October 7 attack on Israel in return for a temporary ceasefire now hinges on practical “minor issues”.
The White House said the negotiations were in the “final” stage, but declined to give further details, saying it could jeopardize a successful outcome.
“We believe we’re closer than we’ve ever been, so we’re optimistic,” National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters.
“But there’s still work to be done. And nothing’s done until it’s all done. So we’re going to keep working on this.”
Kirby added that arrangements were still being made on both sides.
“When you hit the go, you’re relying on everyone to fulfill their commitments. And that’s what we’re doing,” he said.
The Washington Post reported Saturday that there was a tentative agreement to free the dozens of women and children held hostage in Gaza in exchange for a five-day pause in the fighting.
Israel vowed to destroy Hamas in response to the October 7 attacks, which Israeli officials say killed about 1,200 people, most of them civilians, and saw hostages taken.
The army’s relentless air and ground campaign has killed 13,300 people, more than 5,000 of them children, according to the Hamas government that has ruled Gaza since 2007.