Biden: Israel Open to Cease-Fire During Ramadan if Hostages Are Released

U.S. President Joe Biden says Israel would be willing to halt its war on Hamas in Gaza during Ramadan if a deal is reached to release some of the hostages held by the militants.


Biden's Remarks on Israel-Hamas Talks

Israel and Hamas have downplayed the chances of an imminent breakthrough in talks for a cease-fire in Gaza. U.S. President Joe Biden stated that Israel has agreed to pause its offensive during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan if a deal is reached to release some hostages.

Biden's remarks were made on the eve of the Michigan primary, where he faces pressure from the state's large Arab American population over his support for Israel's offensive. However, Biden clarified that his comments reflect optimism for a deal, acknowledging that there are still remaining hurdles.

Negotiators from the United States, Egypt, and Qatar have been working to broker a cease-fire deal. The talks aim to secure the release of some hostages held by Hamas in exchange for a six-week halt in fighting and increased aid deliveries to Gaza.

Growing Alarm Over Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza

Israel's campaign in Gaza has led to tens of thousands of casualties and displaced 80% of the enclave's population. The territory's seal by Israel, which restricts the entry of food and other aid, has raised concerns about an imminent famine.

The United Nations and other countries have attempted to deliver aid to Gaza, but the lack of safe corridors has hampered efforts. In response, Egypt, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and France conducted an airdrop of food, medical supplies, and other aid into Gaza. There is increasing alarm over hunger and infant mortality rates in the region.

The start of Ramadan is seen as an unofficial deadline for a cease-fire deal. Biden mentioned that the Israelis have agreed not to engage in activities during Ramadan as well, to allow time for the release of hostages.

Remaining Challenges and Perspectives

Biden's remarks took Israeli officials by surprise, indicating that they were not made in coordination with the country's leadership. Hamas officials also downplayed any sense of progress, stating that the group is not interested in giving up any of its demands.

While talks for a cease-fire have gained momentum, there are still disagreements between the parties. Israel wants a deal immediately, but Hamas continues to push excessive demands. The release of hostages and the provision of aid remain key points of negotiation.

Despite the challenges, there is some optimism from Qatar, which feels positive about the talks' progress. A senior official from Egypt has also mentioned a proposed plan that includes the release of prisoners and a pause in fighting to allow for aid deliveries.