Feb 12, 2024 - World

Biden says U.S. will do "everything possible" to get new Gaza hostage deal

President Biden speaks alongside King Jordan Abdullah II. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden speaks alongside King Jordan Abdullah II. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden said on Monday the U.S. will do everything possible to get a new hostage deal and pause in fighting in Gaza.

Why it matters: His comments come a day ahead of a critical meeting between U.S. Israeli, Egyptian and Qatari officials in Cairo about the hostage talks. Biden's strategy for the Gaza war is largely dependent on getting a hostage deal and pause in the fighting that will allow the delivery of crucial humanitarian aid and time to work on day-after diplomatic solutions.

  • U.S. officials have acknowledged that a hostage deal is the only way to get a ceasefire, which is also becoming increasingly important — and urgent — for Biden domestically, as he continues to lose support — mainly among young voters — as the war drags on and the Palestinian death toll in Gaza rises.

What they're saying: Biden said on Monday at a press conference with Jordanian King Abdullah II that the U.S. is working on a hostage deal that would bring an immediate and sustained period of calm to Gaza for at least six weeks.

  • He added that such a period of calm would allow the U.S. and other regional players "to build something more enduring."
  • "The key elements of the deal are around the table," Biden said. "There are gaps that remain but I have encouraged Israeli leaders to keep working to get the deal. The U.S. will do everything possible to make it happen."

Catch up quick: The latest hostage proposal is centered on a framework for a three-phase deal that would include a six-week ceasefire and the release of a set number of Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Hamas freeing 35 to 40 Israeli hostages in the first stage.

  • Hamas responded to the initial proposal with a list of demands, including many that are red lines for Israel.

State of play: CIA director Bill Burns is expected on Tuesday to meet in Cairo with the Qatari prime minister and the spy chiefs of Egypt and Israel in an attempt to break the log jam in the negotiations over the hostage deal.

  • Netanyahu only on Monday made the final decision to send the Israeli delegation headed by Mossad director David Barnea. A senior Israeli official told Axios the delegation will go to Cairo "to listen, regardless of Hamas' delusional demands."

Netanyahu's decision came after Biden asked the Israeli leader in their phone call on Sunday to send a delegation to Cairo.

  • During that call, Netanyahu told Biden that he was ready to go for a hostage deal even though it would halt Israel's operational plans in the city of Rafah, according to two Israeli officials. Netanyahu stressed it is important to get a deal if it's possible, but not at any price
  • "If we want to get a deal we need to be tough with Hamas," Netanyahu said, according to the Israeli officials.

Behind the scenes: White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan and White House Middle East czar Brett McGurk held a call on Monday with the families of six American hostages still held in Gaza, according to two sources briefed on the call.

  • "We call on all parties — including the negotiating team from Israel — to show up and stay at the negotiating table until they secure the total release of the hostages. The singular goal of this meeting must be ending the hostage crisis once and for all and bringing our loved ones home," the families said in a statement after the call.
  • The two sources briefed on the conversation said Sullivan told the families Biden is pushing hard for a deal and pressed Netanyahu during their call on Sunday to make progress in the negotiations.

Go deeper: Biden calls Israeli military operation in Gaza "over the top"

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