Israel, Hamas Take Part In Qatar Talks, Biden Hopes For Ceasefire

U.S. President Joe Biden expressed optimism on Monday about achieving a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas conflict in Gaza. Talks in Qatar, focusing on both a truce and the release of hostages, showed progress as negotiators engaged in proximity talks. The upcoming Monday is targeted as the potential start date for the ceasefire.

Biden’s Hopeful Timeline

President Biden, during his visit to New York, shared his hopes for a ceasefire, indicating that it might commence within days. His national security adviser conveyed that they are close to a deal, with the President aiming for the ceasefire to begin by next Monday.

U.S. Push for Hostage Deal

U.S. negotiators have been actively working to secure a pause-for-hostages deal before Ramadan, beginning on March 10. The optimism has grown following meetings between Israeli and Qatari representatives, fostering an atmosphere conducive to negotiations.

 Israel Hamas – Divergent Public Stances

Publicly, Israel and Hamas maintained divergent positions on a potential truce, each blaming the other for delays. Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh accused Israel of stalling while Gazans suffer, while Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu emphasized readiness for a deal, placing the responsibility on Hamas to be realistic.

Qatar’s Role in Negotiations

Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani met with Haniyeh, expressing Qatar’s efforts to broker an immediate and permanent ceasefire agreement. An Israeli delegation reportedly traveled to Qatar to establish an operational center for supporting negotiations and vetting proposed Palestinian militants for a potential hostage release.

 Israel Hamas – Ongoing Tensions

Israel publicly maintains its stance of not ending the conflict until Hamas is eradicated, while Hamas insists on a simultaneous agreement to end the war before freeing hostages. The pressure from the United States on Israel to agree to a truce intensifies to prevent a potential assault on Rafah, a city in southern Gaza where a significant population seeks shelter.

Rafah Assault Plans

Despite the negotiation momentum, Netanyahu affirmed plans for an assault on Rafah, emphasizing Israel’s commitment to evacuate civilians from harm’s way. The possibility of an attack on Rafah has raised concerns about a potential bloodbath, prompting urgency in reaching a truce agreement.

 Israel – Changing Dynamics

Talks gained momentum since Friday’s discussions in Paris, where Israeli officials engaged with U.S., Egyptian, and Qatari delegations regarding the terms of a hostage release deal. Meanwhile, the prime minister of the Palestinian Authority resigned, contributing to the evolving political landscape in the region.