US president Biden holds hope for Gaza truce by next Monday


NEW DELHI: US president Joe Biden expressed his hope on Monday that a ceasefire in Gaza could start by the beginning of next week.
In the midst of a severe humanitarian crisis in the Palestinian territory, many countries, including Egypt, Qatar, the United States, and France, have been acting as intermediaries between Israel and Hamas. Their objective is to bring about an end to the violence and secure the release of Israeli hostages held in Gaza.
A potential agreement could also involve the exchange of numerous hostages for several hundred Palestinian detainees currently held by Israel. When asked about the timing of such an agreement during his visit to New York, Biden responded, ‘My national security advisor informs me that we are close, but not yet done. I hope that by next Monday, we will have a ceasefire.’
Representatives from multiple parties, excluding Hamas, convened in Paris over the weekend and reached a mutual understanding regarding the basic framework of a temporary ceasefire in exchange for a hostage deal, as revealed by White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan in an interview with CNN on Sunday.
Following the Paris meeting, experts from Egypt, Qatar, and the United States, along with representatives from Israel and Hamas, gathered in Doha for discussions. The talks aimed to secure a truce before the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, according to Egyptian media with ties to the state.
An AFP source within Hamas stated that ‘some new amendments’ were proposed concerning contentious issues. However, Israel did not present a substantial position regarding the terms of the ceasefire and the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.
Talks are set to continue, despite Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu dismissing the demand for troop withdrawal as ‘delusional.’ He also emphasized that any ceasefire agreement would only postpone a military incursion into the southern Gaza city of Rafah, where approximately 1.4 million Palestinians have sought refuge from the ongoing conflict.
On Monday, an unnamed Israeli official expressed optimism about the direction of the talks, and Israeli media reported that military and intelligence officials were en route to Qatar for further negotiations on a potential deal.
Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, whose country hosts Hamas leaders and previously played a role in brokering a one-week truce in November, is scheduled to visit Paris this week, as announced by the French presidency.
Sheikh Tamim has already met with Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh in Doha to discuss efforts aimed at achieving an immediate and lasting ceasefire agreement in Gaza, according to the official Qatar News Agency.
According to the ministry, Israel’s military campaign has resulted in the deaths of at least 29,782 people in Gaza, the majority of whom are women and children. The conflict erupted after Hamas launched an unprecedented attack that claimed the lives of 1,160 people in Israel, mostly civilians, as reported by AFP based on official figures.
Militants have also taken approximately 250 hostages, with 130 still being held in Gaza, including 31 presumed dead, according to Israel.

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