US President Joe Biden says he hopes there will be a ceasefire in the Israel-Gaza conflict by next week. (Image Credits: Reuters)
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Shreya Varanasi, Pune

US President Joe Biden said that he hopes there will be a ceasefire in the ongoing Israel-Gaza conflict by “next Monday.” His comments come amidst reports of indirect negotiations between the Hamas and Israeli officials. The negotiations would include assistance deliveries to Gaza as well as the release of other hostages taken during Hamas attacks on October 7. While Israel has not commented on the statement, Hamas officials said the President’s comment was premature. 

When asked when the ceasefire would begin, President Biden told the reporters that he hoped it would happen by the end of the weekend. He further added that his national security adviser told him that “we are close,” though it is not over yet. He stated that he hoped by next Monday, there would be a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. Later, on an American television broadcast, the president stated that Israel would be willing to halt its offensive during Ramadan if an agreement was reached.

On Tuesday, a report indicated that Hamas altered some of its core demands during the current prisoner negotiations and temporarily halted hostilities in Gaza. This modification came after Israel accused Hamas of having “delusional” positions.

CNN reported, citing two sources involved with the talks, that the shift in position has brought the negotiating sides closer to a first agreement, which might lead to the end of the crisis and the release of several Israeli hostages. Following a meeting in Paris involving US, Egyptian, and Israeli intelligence chiefs and Qatar’s Prime Minister, a senior Biden administration official stated that the main challenges have been resolved in terms of Hamas insisting on the complete evacuation of Israeli forces and the end of the war.  The official also added that Hamas’ requirement for the number of Palestinian prisoners that need to be released has declined. 

In the report, a diplomatic source familiar with the discussions revealed that Hamas has softened its stance ahead of the first phase of the agreement. Meanwhile, more challenging obstacles are anticipated to surface later when complicated matters such as Hamas freeing male IDF detainees and ending the conflict are considered.

According to ANI, those involved in the discussions believe that an agreement will be implemented in stages and that once an initial deal is reached, it could lead to a six-week truce in which a group of Israeli hostages, including women, children, the elderly, and the sick, will be released. However, the number of Palestinian prisoners, who will be released in exchange, will be smaller than the number Hamas initially demanded.