Biden’s Administration Bushes Israel and Hamas for Ceasefire/ Hostage Release Deal To BE SIgned Within Days.

President Joe Biden spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday, where the leaders discussed the terms of a possible ceasefire deal that would include the release of hostages held captive by Hamas, according to a statement from the White House.

Why it matters: The White House said Biden “reaffirmed his ironclad commitment to Israel’s security”, highlighting the successful defense against Iran’s missile and drone attack earlier this month. While remaining steadfast in his support for Israel, Biden and other top U.S. officials have been increasingly critical of Israel’s military offensive in the besieged territory. Sunday’s call comes days after Biden signed an aid bill authorizing $26 billion in military aid to Israel, which includes humanitarian relief for people in besieged Gaza. College campuses across the U.S. have seen waves of pro-Palestinian demonstrations since Israel’s war with Hamas in Gaza started.

The proposal, pitched by Egypt and formulated jointly with Israel, would see the release of 20 Israeli hostages over an initial three-week cease-fire. It’s a bid to stave off a military offensive in the southern Gazan city of Rafah—and to revive truce negotiations that have dragged on for about five months without an agreement. A Hamas delegation is in Cairo today to decide on that proposal. On the other hand, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will step up efforts to secure a truce in Gaza during meetings in the Middle East starting Monday, in what could be a final chance to persuade Israel to call off an attack on Rafah.

The White House said Sunday that Israel has agreed to hear out its concerns. Israel has “assured us that they won’t go into Rafah until we’ve had a chance to really share our perspectives and our concerns with them,” John Kirby, spokesman for the White House’s National Security Council, told ABC News. “So we’ll see where that goes.”

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas urged US President Joe Biden to intervene, telling a special edition of the World Economic Forum in Riyadh that the US “is the only country capable” of stopping an Israel invasion of Rafah.

At the same time, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with (NYT) Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister and other top Arab officials today to encourage a cease-fire and hostage release deal in Israel’s war with Hamas. Blinken is due to travel to Israel and Jordan tomorrow. U.S. President Joe Biden discussed (CNN)the potential deal with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on a call yesterday, while also reviewing plans for an increase in humanitarian assistance to the Gaza Strip. 

“Blinken’s trip comes amid renewed concerns about the conflict spreading in the Middle East and with once-promising prospects for Israeli-Saudi rapprochement effectively on hold,” the Associated Press’s Matthew Lee writes.

 “If a century of failure has made clear that the [Israelis and Palestinians] are unlikely to be reconciled in the foreseeable future, the war in Gaza has exposed the terrifying cataclysm that poor handling of the conflict can bring about,” Israeli historian Tom Segev writes in Foreign Affairs.“Rather than devoting energy and political capital to deeply unpopular—and unsustainable—peace plans, the United States and other leading powers must do more to ensure that Palestinians and Israelis can find a safer and more tolerable existence in a world without peace.”