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Deal on release of Israeli hostages is very close: top Biden official

Negotiations on an Israeli hostage deal are very close to the finish line, Deputy US National Security Adviser Jon Finer suggested Sunday.

“Many areas of difference that previously existed have been narrowed,” Finer told CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

“We believe we are closer than we have been to reaching a final agreement, but that on an issue as sensitive as this and as challenging is this, the mantra that nothing is agreed until everything is agreed really does apply,” he said.

Prospects of a breakthrough also gained strength after Qatar’s prime minister indicated Sunday that only minor logistical hurdles remained in the way.

But Finer cautioned, “We don’t have good information about the condition and the status of the hostages.”

He also indicated it is unclear exactly how many US hostages are being held by the Palestinian terror group Hamas, which kidnapped dozens of people during its heinous Oct. 7 raid on Israel.

“Obviously the United States government does not speak directly to Hamas. Hamas has indicated that there are a significant number of hostages that they are holding who are alive. Those are the hostages we are negotiating for,” Finer told NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Last week, US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan revealed there were at least nine American citizens and one permanent legal US resident missing from Israel after the Hamas raid.

Hamas is generally thought to have kidnapped around 240 hostages since the bloody surprise attack, according to estimates from Israeli officials.

Qatari, Egyptian and American officials are believed to be involved in the negotiation process.

On Saturday, the Washington Post reported that a tentative deal had been brokered for the release around 50 women and children in exchange for a five-day pause in Israeli attacks.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the White House have denied that.

Finer declined to divulge specifics of any timeline for a potential halt to the fighting but appeared to suggest that scenario was being considered.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the White House have denied that.

“I think that would be both necessary to actually be able to execute the deal because executing the deal would involve moving hostages around in what is a very dangerous battlefield in Gaza,” he said on NBC.

“It will enable us to get more humanitarian assistance into Gaza. That’s a priority under any circumstances,” Finer said.

Finer underscored that freeing the hostages is “extraordinarily high priority for everyone” on President Biden’s team.

“We feel acutely that this should be done as soon as possible, and we are putting pressure on the diplomacy to try to get this done,” Finer added to CBS.

At least 1,200 Israelis were killed in the Hamas attack on Israel, according to the revised numbers from the government. About 11,500 Palestinians have been slain during Israel’s retaliatory assaults in Gaza since then, according to estimates from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Health Ministry, whose trustworthiness is very questionable.


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