Israel, Hamas Indicate Biden Spoke Too Soon About Potential Hostage Deal

Biden said he was hoping for a ceasefire by Monday

President Biden on Monday said a hostage deal between Israel and Hamas was “close” and that he hoped a ceasefire could be reached by Monday, March 4. But in response, both sides indicated an agreement is still far away and said the president spoke too soon.

According to The Times of Israel, one Hamas official said Biden’s comments were “premature” and didn’t reflect reality. Another Hamas official told Reuters that there were still “big gaps” between the two sides.

Hamas is still looking for a permanent ceasefire, while the deal that’s reportedly on the table would be for a six-week truce. “The primary and main issues of the ceasefire and the withdrawal of Israeli forces are not clearly stated, which delays reaching an agreement,” said the Hamas official speaking to Reuters.

According to The Associated Press, Biden’s comments came as a surprise to Israeli officials and were not done in coordination with the Israeli government. Israeli officials are blaming the lack of an agreement on Hamas’s demands, although Haaretz reported Monday that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was also complicating negotiations.

Netanyahu has said that any hostage deal would only delay Israel’s plans to invade the southern Gaza city of Rafah, which borders Egypt and is packed with 1.5 million Palestinians. A full-scale assault would incur a huge civilian death toll, as most Palestinians are sheltering in tents on the streets of Rafah.

The deal that’s on the table would involve Hamas releasing 40 Israeli hostages during the six-week pause as Israel releases hundreds of Palestinian prisoners. Hamas previously offered to release all Israeli hostages in exchange for the release of thousands of Palestinians and a 135-day ceasefire with the goal of reaching a permanent settlement, but the proposal was rejected by Israel.

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the news editor of, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.