Updated Feb 27, 2024 - World

Biden: "My hope" is there will be Gaza ceasefire deal by next Monday

President Biden at the White House earlier this month. Photo: Nathan Howard/Getty Images

President Biden at the White House earlier this month. Photo: Nathan Howard/Getty Images

President Biden said Monday that Israel has agreed to halt its Gaza offensive during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan if a deal is reached to free the remaining hostages being held by Hamas.

Why it matters: The Biden administration is making serious efforts to try and get a hostage deal that could lead to a six-week pause in the fighting in Gaza before the start of Ramadan in two weeks. But getting a deal by Monday will likely be an uphill battle due to major gaps between Israel and Hamas in the negotiations.

What they're saying: "There is a path forward, with difficulty," Biden said during an interview on NBC's "Late Night With Seth Meyers."

  • "First of all ... the hostages being held must be released," he said. "Ramadan's coming up and there has been an agreement by the Israelis that they would not engage in activities during Ramadan as well, in order to give us time to get all the hostages out."
  • There was no immediate response from Israeli officials on Biden's comments about Ramadan, which is due to begin around March 10.
  • Biden told reporters earlier in the day that he hopes a ceasefire in Gaza can be reached by next Monday.
  • "My national security advisor tells me that we're close, we're close, we're not done yet. My hope is by next Monday we'll have a ceasefire," Biden said.

State of play: Representatives of the Israel Defense Forces and the Israeli Mossad and Shin Bet spy agencies on Monday held the first round of talks in Doha with the Egyptian and Qatari mediators on the humanitarian aspects of the hostage deal proposal. These talks are expected to continue on Tuesday, two Israeli officials said.

  • At the same time, Egyptian and Qatari mediators are holding talks with Hamas representatives who are also in Doha in an attempt to pressure them to compromise, especially in regards to the quantity and "quality" of the prisoners the group is demanding be released for each hostage, the officials said.
  • According to Israeli officials, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked his negotiators to demand that some of the prisoners who could be released, including members of Hamas who were convicted of killing Israelis and are serving long sentences, not be allowed back into Gaza or the occupied West Bank once freed.

Qatari mediators have informed Israel that senior Hamas officials are "disappointed" with the updated framework of the hostage deal and emphasized there is still a significant gap between the proposal and their demands, two Israeli officials and a source with direct knowledge told Axios.

  • "There is no room for much optimism," said a senior Israeli official. "The progress that Israel achieved with the mediators in Paris did not close the gaps with Hamas. It is difficult to see at this stage how an agreement is reached before Ramadan."

Go deeper: IDF told Egypt that Israeli Rafah operation won't push Palestinians into Sinai, sources say

Editor's note: This article has been updated with President Biden's comments on "Late Night With Seth Meyers."

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