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By The Smartencyclopedia Staff & Agencies 

In a press conference on Monday, US President Joe Biden expressed optimism about achieving a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas by next week. Biden, who spoke in New York alongside comedian Seth Meyers, hinted at ongoing negotiations for a truce deal, specifically addressing the release of hostages held by Hamas since October 7.

“We’re close. We’re not done yet,” Biden stated, indicating progress in the talks. He mentioned that Israel had agreed to halt operations during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, starting around March 10, provided a deal is reached.

When questioned about the potential timing of the ceasefire, Biden responded, “My hope is that by next Monday [March 4] we’ll have a ceasefire.” The President made these remarks at an ice cream shop in New York after recording an appearance on NBC’s “Late Night With Seth Meyers.”

Biden also revealed that Israel had slowed its bombardment of Rafah, emphasizing the commitment from Israel to facilitate the evacuation of significant portions of Rafah before addressing the remaining Hamas strongholds.

A US official indicated that negotiations were intensifying to secure a truce-for-hostages deal before Ramadan, with the State Department emphasizing that the outcome depends on Hamas’s agreement. The optimism stemmed from recent meetings between Israeli and Qatari representatives.

However, the State Department remained cautious, stating, “We believe a deal is possible, and we hope Hamas will agree to one. We need Hamas to say yes.”

Reports from Hebrew media sources suggested growing pessimism among senior Israeli officials regarding the prospects of a hostage deal, with Hamas signaling hesitation to accept the latest proposal. The proposed Paris framework involves the release of 40 hostages in exchange for a six-week pause in fighting.

Key sticking points include Israel’s insistence that a temporary truce does not guarantee an end to the war, while Hamas seeks such assurance. Israel has vowed to dismantle Hamas in Gaza after the October 7 massacres that triggered the conflict.

The Paris framework also reportedly includes Israel releasing Palestinian prisoners and facilitating the return of displaced Palestinians to northern Gaza. Israel proposed moving its forces out of crowded parts of Gaza during a six-week truce.

Negotiations appeared to be advancing, with an Israeli delegation heading to Doha, where Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani separately met Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh. The presence of both sides in proximity talks suggested progress in negotiations.

The ongoing conflict, sparked by Hamas’s October 7 onslaught, has resulted in thousands of casualties and the kidnapping of 253 hostages. The situation remains complex, with the hope that diplomatic efforts will lead to a meaningful ceasefire and resolution.

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