Biden predicts ceasefire by Monday, though Hamas and Israel seem skeptical
U.S. President Joe Biden points toward the Marine One presidential helicopter as he departs the White House, Feb. 26, 2024.
(Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

By Ron Kampeas
February 27, 2024

(JTA) — President Joe Biden says an Israel-Hamas ceasefire is “close” and that it could come as soon as next Monday.

But Israel, Hamas and Qatar have all thrown cold water on Biden’s optimism, saying a deal remains possible but does not appear to be close. Qatar is hosting negotiations in its capital, Doha, after negotiators proposed an outline for a ceasefire agreement over the weekend.

Biden, who was in New York on Monday for an appearance on Seth Meyers’ NBC late night show, had stopped with Meyers for an ice cream cone when reporters asked him how close a ceasefire may be.

“My national security advisor tells me that we’re close, we’re close, we’re not done yet,” Biden said. “My hope is by next Monday we’ll have a ceasefire.”

Biden was referring to Jake Sullivan, who on Sunday told CNN that negotiators had outlined the broad parameters of a deal.

A U.S. team joined Israeli, Egyptian and Qatari counterparts in Paris over the weekend to discuss terms for a temporary truce. The deal would involve a six-week ceasefire, the release of 40 Israeli hostages from Gaza and the release of a larger number of Palestinian security prisoners.

A weeklong truce in November saw more than 100 hostages released in exchange for some 300 Palestinian security prisoners.

But according to the Times of Israel, a Hamas official reportedly said there are “big gaps” remaining, and referring to Biden, an Israeli official said he didn’t know “what his optimism is based on.” Qatar also said talks are ongoing.

Hamas’ invasion of Israel on Oct. 7 launched the war, killing roughly 1,200 people and abducting more than 250. More than 130 Israelis remain in Hamas hands, of whom about 100 are thought to remain alive.

Since Israel launched counterstrikes, close to 30,000 Palestinians have been killed, according to the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza. Israel says more than a third of the dead are combatants.

Israel is poised to invade Rafah, on the Gaza-Egypt border, where most of the enclave’s population has fled. Biden wants Israel to allow the refugees to move elsewhere before it invades, something that could occur under a temporary ceasefire. He also wants to get humanitarian assistance inside the strip. International health authorities say Gaza is verging on starvation.

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