Biden expresses hope for ceasefire in Israel-Hamas conflict within days amid Qatar talks

President Joe Biden expressed optimism on Monday for a cease-fire to commence by the upcoming Monday in the Israel-Hamas conflict in Gaza, as negotiations in Qatar, aimed at brokering a deal and the release of hostages, showed signs of progress.

The engagement of both parties in proximity talks in the same city, albeit meeting mediators separately, indicates advancements in negotiations unprecedented since early February when Israel declined a Hamas proposal for a four-and-a-half-month truce.

Biden, speaking during a New York visit, stated his hope for a cease-fire to begin “by the beginning of the weekend, by the end of the weekend.” He added, “We’re close. We’re not there yet. My hope is by next Monday we’ll have a cease-fire,” referencing updates from his national security adviser.

A U.S. official mentioned efforts by U.S. negotiators to secure a pause-for-hostages agreement by the start of Ramadan on March 10, with senior U.S. officials actively engaged last week. Optimism has reportedly stemmed from recent interactions between Israeli and Qatari officials.

Despite ongoing public discourse where Israel and Hamas maintain significantly divergent stances on a truce, each blaming the other for negotiation delays, efforts towards peace continue. After discussions with Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas’s leader, committed to pursuing an end to the conflict while accusing Israel of prolonging the situation to Gazans’ detriment.

The Gaza Health Ministry reports the conflict has resulted in at least 30,000 casualties in Gaza.