United States President Joe Biden has said that he hopes to have a ceasefire in Israel’s war on Gaza by next Monday as negotiations to halt hostilities and secure the release of captives appear to be gathering pace.
Biden’s comments in New York on Monday came as Israeli media reported that an Israeli military delegation had flown to Qatar for intensive talks.
The negotiations, mediated by Egypt, Qatar and the US, seek to secure a pause in fighting between Israel and Hamas to allow aid into Gaza, where the United Nations says some 2.3 million people are on the brink of famine.
The proposed pause would also allow for the release of dozens of captives held by Hamas in return for the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.
Biden, when asked when he thought a ceasefire could begin, said he hoped by next Monday there would be a ceasefire.
The US has been stepping up pressure on Israel in recent days to agree on a truce soon in a bid to head off a threatened Israeli assault on Rafah, the city in southern Gaza where some 1.4 million people, many of them displaced by war, have sought safety.
Biden’s comments could also be aimed at voters in the state of Michigan, which is due to hold its presidential primaries on Tuesday, said Culhane. Many Arab- and Muslim-American voters there have pledged to vote “uncommitted” on their ballots in protest of Biden’s support for Israel.
Biden’s comments came a day after his National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said representatives from Israel, Egypt, Qatar and the US discussed the terms of a ceasefire deal in Paris over the weekend and had come to “an understanding” about the contours of such an agreement.
The talks in the French capital did not include representatives from Hamas.
Reports suggest the Paris meeting would be followed by proximity talks involving delegates from Israel and Hamas, first in Qatar and later in Cairo.
Hamas has its political office in the Qatari capital, Doha.
In Qatar on Monday, the country’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani met Hamas’s political leader, Ismail Haniyeh and discussed efforts to reach an “immediate and durable ceasefire agreement in the Gaza Strip.
Following the meeting, Haniyeh said Hamas welcomed the mediators’ efforts to find an end to the war and accused Israel of stalling while the people of Gaza die under siege.

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