Tue. Jun 18th, 2024

Biden Administration has discussed potentially negotiating unilateral deal with Hamas to free U.S. hostages

By 37ci3 Jun10,2024

WASHINGTON — Biden administration officials have discussed potentially one-sided talks Agree with Hamas ensure 5 Americans held hostage in Gaza have been released If the current cease-fire talks involving Israel fail, according to two current and two former senior US officials.

Such talks would not include Israel and, as in the current talks, would be conducted through Qatari interlocutors, officials briefed on the discussions said.

White House officials declined to comment.

The Biden administration has said it believes Hamas is holding five American hostages who were kidnapped during the October 7 terrorist attack on Israel. U.S. officials also hope to recover the remains of three other U.S. citizens who were killed by Hamas that day and whose bodies were later taken to Gaza.

Officials did not know what the United States could give Hamas in exchange for the release of the American hostages. But Hamas may have an incentive to cut the unilateral deal with the United States, officials said, because it would further strain relations between the United States and Israel and put additional domestic political pressure on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

One former official said the internal discussions also took place in the context of the possibility that the United States would unilaterally terminate the agreement with Hamas, which could pressure Netanyahu to agree to a version of the current cease-fire proposal.

The Israeli leader is already under increasing pressure to reach an agreement that would free the hostages’ family members. Earlier this week, Israeli officials estimated that about 120 hostages were still being held by Hamas, and that 43 of them had died in captivity.

The five Americans Those detained in Gaza are believed to be Edan Alexander, Sagui Dekel-Chen, Hersh Goldberg-Polin, Omer Neutra and Keith Siegel. Itay Chen, Judy Weinstein, and Gad Haqqaidi are the three Americans believed to have been killed in a Hamas terrorist attack on October 7.

Four Israeli hostages who were kidnapped from the Nova music festival over the weekend were rescued as a result of an operation conducted by the Israel Defense Forces. This was reported by the Ministry of Health of Gaza at least 274 Palestiniansincluding dozens of children were killed during the Israeli raid.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken is expected on Monday travel to the region to discuss recent efforts to secure a ceasefire agreement. A senior administration official told NBC News that Saturday’s Israeli raid to free the four hostages will further complicate Blinken’s efforts to reach a deal and free the remaining hostages.

A senior administration official said the rescue of the Israeli hostages has strengthened Netanyahu’s determination to continue military operations in Gaza, rather than end the fighting.

In some past efforts to free Americans wrongfully imprisoned abroad, the United States has conducted prisoner exchanges. It is not known which prisoners in US prisons Hamas wants to secure the release of and who the Biden administration would consider acceptable for the crimes they have been prosecuted for.

The current senior US official said the idea of ​​trying to broker a deal between the Biden administration and Hamas remains a “very real option” if the current proposed cease-fire deal moves forward.

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said Sunday that the United States is still waiting for a “formal” response from Hamas to the latest proposal. Last week, CIA Director Bill Burns and White House Middle East Coordinator Brett McGurk visited the region to continue talks on the proposal.

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By 37ci3

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