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Biden says Israel-Hamas ceasefire could happen within week

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President Joe Biden told reporters during a visit to New York City on Monday that he expects Israel and Hamas to finalize an agreement that would see a pause in the fighting in Gaza by next week. 

“My hope is that by next Monday we will have a ceasefire,” Biden said as he held an ice cream cone on a brief stop at a Rockefeller Center ice cream shop in Manhattan. He was there to film a segment with late-night host Seth Meyers.

Biden said his national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, informed him that the two sides are inching closer to a deal. “We are close, it’s not done yet,” he said.

An Israeli delegation visited Qatar on Monday to continue negotiating a hostage-for-prisoner deal. The proposal was outlined during talks held in Paris on Friday between an Israeli delegation and mediators from the U.S., Qatar, and Egypt. It includes the release of at least 40 hostages during a six-week phase. 

Sullivan said on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday that the administration anticipates “that in the coming days, we can drive to a point where there is actually a firm and final agreement on this issue.”

Over the weekend, Israeli media reported that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is insisting Palestinian prisoners convicted of the most serious crimes be deported, and is also demanding a list of which hostages are still alive. Netanyahu said in an interview with Fox News Monday morning that Israel wants the deal and that it is dependent on Hamas. “I think the bar has been laid,” he said. “But they have to enter the ballpark.” 

CNN reported that Hamas had backed off from some key demands, which were described by Israel as “delusional.” A senior Biden administration official told CNN that the major obstacles had been resolved in terms of the Palestinians insisting on a full withdrawal of Israeli forces and an end to the war.

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