Nov 14, 2023 - World

Biden says he believes deal to free dozens of hostages held in Gaza is "going to happen"

President Biden in the Oval Office on Thursday. Photo: Chris Kleponis/CNP/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden in the Oval Office on Thursday. Photo: Chris Kleponis/CNP/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden said on Tuesday he thinks that a deal to free dozens of hostages held by Hamas and other Palestinian groups in Gaza "is going to happen."

Driving the news: The U.S. and Israel are negotiating through Qatar with Hamas a deal that could see the release of about 80 women and children who were kidnapped during the Oct. 7 attack.

  • In return, Israel would agree to a temporary ceasefire of three to five days and release Palestinian women and teenagers who are being held in Israeli prisons, including many who have been convicted of charges related to their involvement in attacks against Israeli soldiers or civilians mostly in the occupied West Bank.

Catch up quick: About 240 people, including Americans, were kidnapped and taken to Gaza during the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel.

  • Four hostages have since been released and one has been rescued.

What they're saying: Biden said on Tuesday that he has been speaking to people involved in the hostage negotiations "every single day."

  • "I believe it is going to happen but I don't want to get into details," he added.
  • Asked what message he wanted to send to the families of the hostages, Biden said: "Hang in there. We are coming."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement in response to Biden's remarks and appeared to try to tamp down expectations.

  • "Our hearts are with the hostages and their families. Since the beginning of the war, we have been constantly working to release our hostages including putting more pressure on Hamas since the beginning of the ground operation in Gaza," Netanyahu said. "If and when we will have anything concrete to report – we will do it."

The latest: Biden and Netanyahu spoke on the phone later Tuesday and "discussed at length ongoing efforts to secure the release of hostages held by Hamas, including many children and a number of Americans," the White House said.

State of play: Biden on Saturday spoke to Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani for the first time since the Gaza war started and discussed "the urgent ongoing efforts to secure releases of hostages," the White House said in a readout of the call.

  • The two leaders "agreed that all hostages must be released without further delay," the White House added.
  • White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan on Monday met with the families of the American hostages held in Gaza.
  • Elizabeth Hirsh Naftali, the great aunt of three-year-old Abigail Edan who was kidnapped to Gaza after her parents were killed in the Oct. 7 attack, told Axios that her impression after the meeting was that the Biden administration is making huge efforts to release the hostages.

What to watch: Biden's top Middle East adviser Brett McGurk and the State Department's senior Middle East diplomat Barbara Leaf are expected to visit Doha on Sunday, two sources with direct knowledge said.

  • McGurk and Leaf will meet Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim al-Thani and discuss the hostage issue.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional details throughout.

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