Biden Says Israel-Hamas Ceasefire Deal Could be Inked by This Week

Joe Biden told reporters Monday he expects Israel and Hamas to reach a deal this weekend for the release of the remaining Israeli hostages in the Gaza Strip—a deal he expects would pause hostilities as early as March 4.

A deal is yet to be finalized, but Biden says the two sides are close to reaching an agreement that could go into effect early next week.

“My national security adviser tells me that they’re close,” Biden said while stopping to get ice cream with late-night host Seth Myers ahead of an appearance on his show. “They’re close—they’re not done yet. My hope is by next Monday we’ll have a ceasefire.”

Dozens of pro-Palestine protesters filled the lobby of 30 Rockefeller Plaza, where Meyers’ show is filmed, ahead of Biden’s appearance. Video from the scene shows the demonstrators, dressed in black and holding signs, chanting for the president to take further action to stop the carnage in Gaza.

Citing sources involved in the talks, Al Jazeera reported that ceasefire negotiations on Monday included the possible release of 400 Palestinians being held prisoner in Israel in exchange for the release of 40 Israeli hostages.

Al Jazeera reported these negotiations were taking place in Paris, with the heads of the Mossad and the Shin Bet in attendance, along with the Qatari prime minister and the head of the Egyptian intelligence services.

The report added that the detained Palestinians are mostly in custody on terror-related charges. The potentially soon-to-be released prisoners likely to be part of a deal would not include those that are of “recruitment age,” Al Jazeera reported.

While hostilities would reportedly stop as soon as hostages are released, Israeli officials have indicated they’ll continue their ground operation in Gaza for the time being.

Nearly 30,000 people have died in the beseiged enclave, the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry reported over the weekend.

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