US optimistic on hostage deal, says progress is being made

Biden administration officials say “gaps remain” but that agreement to free Israeli captives is closer than ever.

By World Israel News Staff

The basic framework for a potential deal that would see the release of all remaining Israeli hostages in Gaza in exchange for easing military pressure on the Hamas terror group is ready, according to U.S. officials.

Last week, Hamas and Israel ceased talks aimed at freeing the Israeli captivates and establishing a ceasefire, with both sides saying they would not acquiesce to the others’ demands.

But the Biden administration has continued pushing for both parties to return to the negotiating table, and some top American officials are optimistic that a deal can still be reached.

“The framework of the agreement is ready,” a senior U.S. official told Axios. “Some of the gaps are big but we want to take advantage of the progress to get a deal.”

Acknowledging rising tensions between Egypt and Israel over a likely IDF incursion into Rafah, a city in southern Gaza that borders Egypt’s Sinai peninsula, the U.S. said it had stressed to Cairo that Israeli military action was necessary for achieving an agreement.

The official added that “there will be no deal without Hamas being under pressure. We made that clear to Egypt. This is a fact.”

A U.S. official told CNN in a separate interview that before a deal is reached, “there are certainly gaps that need to be closed. Some of them are significant, but there has been real progress over the last few weeks, and we are now seeking to do all we possibly can to capitalize on it.”

On Sunday, President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke on the phone for some 45 minutes.

In a summary of the call, Washington said that the two leaders had discussed the hostage deal.

“The President reaffirmed our shared goal to see Hamas defeated and to ensure the long-term security of Israel and its people. The President and the Prime Minister discussed ongoing efforts to secure the release of all remaining hostages held by Hamas,” read a statement from the White House.