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Israel-Hamas hostage release deal remains elusive, Sullivan says

U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan speaks during a press briefing on February 4, 2021, in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, D.C. (Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images/TNS)

An agreement to pause the Israel-Hamas war and free civilian hostages captured by Hamas isn’t imminent and “the ball is in Hamas’s court,” U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said.

“Ultimately, that comes down to Hamas,” Sullivan said on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday, adding that there’s no guarantee a deal will come together. “Sitting here today, I cannot tell you it’s right around the corner.”

People familiar with the diplomacy said last week that the negotiations are advancing on a deal that those involved believe could be a major step to ending four months of war since Hamas attacks Israel on Oct. 7 and Israel launched a military incursion into the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip in response.

But it’s unclear if Israel and Hamas are on board.

“We will not agree to every deal, and not at any price,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday. “Many things that are being said in the media, as if we had agreed to them, such as regarding the release of terrorists, we will simply not agree to them.”

Hamas is expected to respond on Sunday evening, Haaretz reported, citing Saudi sources.

Spy chiefs and top officials from Qatar, Egypt, the U.S. and Israel agreed on a framework in Paris last weekend. Qatar then presented Hamas with a proposal for a 45-day pause and the release of some Palestinian prisoners in exchange for all the women, children and elderly Israeli hostages, according to one official.

“Israel has in fact put forward a proposal. And as Qatar has indicated publicly, the ball is in the Hamas’ court at this time,” Sullivan said in an interview for CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is departing on another trip to the region on Sunday. He will pursue diplomatic efforts on a deal for a pause in the fighting that will allow increased delivery into Gaza and the release of all remaining hostages, the State Department said in a statement Friday.


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