Biden and Netanyahu Discuss Gaza Hostage Deal as Hamas Signals Approval

Biden and Netanyahu discuss Gaza aid, hostage release, and ceasefire plans amid ongoing conflict. Hamas signals approval of Israel's latest truce proposal, raising hopes for a potential resolution.

Shivani Chauhan
New Update
Biden and Netanyahu Discuss Gaza Hostage Deal as Hamas Signals Approval

Biden and Netanyahu Discuss Gaza Hostage Deal as Hamas Signals Approval

President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu discussed increasing humanitarian aid delivery to Gaza and plans for a possible military operation in Rafah during a phone call on Sunday. The two leaders reviewed ongoing talks designed to secure the release of hostages held by Hamas since the October 7 attack, coupled with an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.

Meanwhile, Hamas has signaled approval of Israel's latest proposal for a long-sought truce and hostage-release deal in the Gaza Strip after almost seven months of war. A Hamas delegation will arrive in Egypt on Monday to deliver the group's response to Israel's counterproposal. A senior Hamas official stated that the organization has no significant problems with the proposed deal, and the "atmosphere is positive unless there are new obstacles from the Israeli side."

The proposed deal would involve Hamas releasing hostages in exchange for a ceasefire and the release of Palestinian prisoners. During a longer ceasefire, Israel and Hamas would enact a larger prisoner and hostage swap, and allow the return of at least 300,000 displaced Palestinians to central and northern Gaza, after security screening.

Why this matters: The ongoing war in Gaza, which began with a Hamas attack on October 7 that killed over 1,200 people, has resulted in a severe humanitarian crisis. A ceasefire deal and the release of hostages could provide much-needed relief to the people of Gaza and prevent further escalation of the conflict.

Biden and Netanyahu also discussed an increased pace of aid deliveries, including preparations to open new crossings into Gaza. The President stressed the need for this progress to be sustained and enhanced in full coordination with humanitarian organizations. The U.S. and Jordan recently conducted a joint humanitarian assistance airdrop into Northern Gaza, delivering over 25,000 Meals Ready to Eat (MREs) and more than 13,080 meal equivalents of Jordanian food supplies.

However, the negotiations have been complicated by contradictory messaging, with both sides positioning to blame the other for any failure. Israel has threatened a major military operation in Rafah as leverage, but this has been undercut by international opposition. The Biden administration is considering restricting defense exports to Israel if it launches a large-scale Rafah operation.

The growing pressure for a cease-fire deal is also meant to avert an Israeli attack on Rafah, where more than half of Gaza's 2.3 million population is seeking shelter. Aid groups have warned that an invasion of Rafah would worsen the already desperate humanitarian situation in Gaza, where hunger is widespread.

In a statement, the White House said that Biden reaffirmed his "ironclad commitment to Israel's security" and that Israel had agreed to listen to U.S. concerns before launching an invasion of the Gaza border city of Rafah. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is headed to the Middle East with stops in Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Israel to continue to push for a deal.

Key Takeaways

  • Biden, Netanyahu discuss Gaza aid, hostage release, and potential military op in Rafah.
  • Hamas signals approval of Israel's truce and hostage-release proposal, delegation to visit Egypt.
  • Proposed deal involves Hamas releasing hostages in exchange for ceasefire and prisoner release.
  • U.S. and Jordan conduct joint humanitarian airdrop to Gaza, Biden pushes for sustained aid.
  • Blinken to visit Middle East to continue pushing for Gaza ceasefire deal, U.S. may restrict defense exports to Israel.