Kimberly P. Yow

Kimberly P. Yow

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Biden says Israel ready for Ramadan ceasefire, Hamas noncommittal

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President Biden said Israel has agreed to a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, but Hamas is not prepared to call a truce.

The president’s remarks were recorded Monday and aired early Tuesday on NBC’s “Late Night with Seth Meyers.” He suggested that a ceasefire during Ramadan would give the U.S. time to secure the release of American hostages still held by Hamas, but officials from the terrorist group called his comments premature as it studies the ceasefire agreement. 

“Ramadan is coming up, and there’s 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,” Biden told Meyers.

Earlier, the president told reporters he hoped that a ceasefire would begin by at least “the end of the weekend.” 

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“At least, my national security advisor tells me that we’re close. We’re close. It’s not done yet,” Biden said at an ice cream parlor near Peacock Network’s headquarters after recording his interview with Meyers. 

“And my hope is by next Monday, we’ll have a ceasefire,” he added, mint ice cream cone in hand. 

Hamas is reviewing a proposal agreed at a meeting in Paris last week between Israel, the United States and mediators from Egypt and Qatar, the most serious push for a ceasefire since the last truce collapsed after a week in November. 

While Biden struck an optimistic tone about the prospects for a truce, two Hamas officials who spoke to Reuters said his comments were premature.

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One official said there were “still big gaps to be bridged,” according to Reuters. “The primary and main issues of the ceasefire and the withdrawal of Israeli forces are not clearly stated, which delays reaching an agreement.”

Another Hamas official close to the talks told Reuters that the draft proposal sent to Hamas was for a 40-day truce during which Hamas would free around 40 hostages — including women, those under 19 or over 50 years old, and the sick — in return for around 400 Palestinian detainees at a 10-for-one ratio.

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Under the proposal, Israel would reposition its troops outside settled areas. Gaza residents, except for men of fighting age, would be permitted to return home to areas previously evacuated, and more aid would flow to Gaza, including equipment to house those who have lost their homes. 

But Israel has not agreed to two key demands from Hamas — a commitment to end the war permanently and withdraw from Palestinian territory. 

The offer also does not address the release of Israeli hostages who are soldiers or healthy men of fighting age, or a Hamas demand for as many as 1,500 detainees to be freed, Reuters reported.

Delegations from Hamas and Israel are both in Qatar this week negotiating details of a potential ceasefire. They face an unofficial March 10 deadline, which would mark the start of Ramadan, a period that often sees heightened Israeli-Palestinian tensions. 

Fox News Digital’s Bradford Betz and Reuters contributed to this report.

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