Feb 27, 2024

Biden Hopes to have Israel-Hamas Ceasefire by Monday

Biden Speaks to Press at Ice Cream Shop
RevBlogTranscriptsCeasefireBiden Hopes to have Israel-Hamas Ceasefire by Monday

President Joe Biden said he hopes there will be an Israel-Hamas ceasefire by “next Monday.” Read the transcript here.

Hallie Jackson (00:00):

Hey there, I’m Hallie, and we’ve got a breaking news update just into us here on the war between Israel and Hamas, with President Biden in just the last 15 minutes suggesting that a deal for a truce, a temporary ceasefire could come very soon. Listen.

Joe Biden (00:14):

At least my-

Speaker 3 (00:15):

Say again.

Joe Biden (00:15):

… national security advisor tells me that we’re close. We’re close. It’s not done yet. My hope is by next Monday, we’ll have a ceasefire.

Hallie Jackson (00:24):

“My hope is by next Monday, we’ll have a ceasefire.” I just have to pause and note that it may seem in Congress that the President is holding an ice cream cone when he is talking about that, he’s actually at 30 Rock. We’ll talk about this in a minute, but he had a separate appearance. The pool of reporters that always travels with him is traveling with him. They had the opportunity to ask him that question. That’s why you’re seeing that image there.

It is a big deal. The potential for a ceasefire in Gaza is a big deal, because of what we have seen during this war. The negotiations now that have gone on for weeks, varying levels of optimism over whether they would actually come through, and now this news from the President. To be clear, we don’t have many more details or any more details other than what the President himself has said, like how long it could last, what it would look like, because just today, the Israeli Minister of Defense pledged that even if Israel does agree to a temporary ceasefire, it’ll keep fighting until all the hostages are freed. I want to bring in Aaron Gilchrist, who is live for us at the White House here. And Aaron, listen, this is the President very publicly choosing to lay down this marker, this timeline for when he thinks there could be this significant development with the ceasefire. Talk us through it.

Aaron Gilchrist (01:29):

Yeah, you’re right. He’s done something that we haven’t heard any other leaders in his administration or any other government really do, and that is give us a day, not certain, but a day that he believes there could be some resolution to the effort to get another ceasefire in place. And so I’ll take a step back here and pull at a few threads that have been coming together over the last several days. We know that Prime Minister, Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu was on television here in the States yesterday and talked about the possibility of a ceasefire deal, saying that his people had met with the American, Qatari and Egyptian teams in France over the weekend to talk about this deal. We knew that the contours of a deal had started to come together and that there was some degree of optimism that there could be a ceasefire deal, a deal to release hostages, but that the Israelis needed to take Hamas’ additional demands, the Prime Minister needed to take those demands back to his cabinet to discuss and to talk about whether they would adhere to some of those deals.

Prime Minister Netanyahu said on television yesterday that he felt like Hamas was being unrealistic, to put it nicely, in some of the things that it was demanding. And so he wasn’t saying for certain that this is a deal that would come together, but we did get indications from the President’s National Security Advisor, Jake Sullivan, that the contours were in place and that the work was still going to be happening, continuing to happen, to hammer out the final details of a deal, and to see something come together that would allow for a pause in the fighting, an extended pause in the fighting. There had been talk about the potential for six weeks of a pause in some of the fighting, and of course a release of hostages and an effort to get more aid, food, medicine, and things of that sort into Gaza, to people who’ve been suffering for months now, the Palestinians there who’ve been suffering for months now, while this war has been going on. And so this first sign, Hallie, as you said, an indication that we could be in the final days of a deal coming together, as the President said possibly by the end of the weekend.

Hallie Jackson (03:27):

But you make a good point, Aaron, that it has been weeks, days, weeks, that we have seen top administration officials, even though they haven’t spoken publicly about it, I’m thinking of CIA Director Bill Burns, for example, who we know, based on our reporting, has done some traveling for these negotiations. It’s not like those folks are holding press conferences. The National Security Advisor revealing much behind the scenes about where these negotiations for a ceasefire stand, which is why the significance of what we’re hearing from the President matters. You’ve got about 130 hostages still being held, even as there are these questions also about this pledge from Israel on what happens in Rafah there. Israel has said that by the start of Ramadan, if they don’t see movement on some of this stuff, that they will potentially go in on a ground offensive there. It’s a place where there are a lot of civilians. Civilians were told to go there and shelter. This is a real… It’s an inflection point, it seems, in many ways for this war.

Aaron Gilchrist (04:20):

Yeah, 1.4 million roughly, is the number that we’re hearing, Palestinians in Rafah right now, and those people would need to be removed from harm’s way. The Israelis have said that they are working on a plan that would allow for the evacuation of civilians in Rafah. Our reporter on the ground in Israel, Raf Sanchez, has been able to talk to some sources there who’ve said that there’s an expectation that those civilians would be allowed to move somewhat north out of Rafah, back into Gaza, not into the northern part of Gaza, but out of where the fighting could happen.

Netanyahu though, for his part, said that if a deal does come together, it would delay any military movement into Rafah. And so, there’s a lot of hope around the world, and certainly with all the parties, the countries that have been engaged in this negotiation process, that they will be able to come to some agreement on a ceasefire, that there will be an effort to help civilians who have been suffering so badly over these many months, and potentially this could be the beginning of additional conversations that could lead to a more extensive ceasefire, potentially even an end to some of the fighting. Although, as you noted, Hallie, the Israelis have said that they intend to fight again, even after a pause might come to an end.

Speaker 5 (05:37):

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