White House spokesman John Kirby said “we are closer than ever.”
President Joe Biden said Monday he believes a deal is near to free some of the more than 200 hostages held by Hamas in Gaza.
Biden was participating in the annual Thanksgiving turkey pardon at the White House when he was asked if a deal was close.
“I believe it, but I’m not ready to talk to…,” Biden said before being interrupted by the reporter, who pressed him: “Do you believe it?”
“Yes,” Biden replied. The president then crosses his fingers.
Hamas took more than 230 hostages, including Americans, during its October 7 terrorist attack on Israeli communities, according to Israeli officials. Only a handful of hostages were released in the weeks that followed, including a mother and daughter with dual American and Israeli citizenship and two elderly Israeli women.
The administration said 10 missing Americans were among the hostages.
More than 1,200 people were killed in Israel in the first terrorist attack and thousands more have been killed or injured since then in retaliatory operations in Gaza, according to the Gaza Health Ministry, led by the Hamas.
U.S. National Security Council spokesman John Kirby reiterated at the White House briefing Monday that the administration believes the case is “closer than ever,” but said he were no updates to discuss publicly. He declined to give further details when asked how many hostages might be freed or whether women and children were prioritized.
“I want to be careful here, I don’t want to negotiate in public, but if you want to get the hostages released, and we certainly hope to be able to do that soon, you have to “We have to make sure that they can get to where “They’re at safety and doing it in the safest way possible, which means you’re going to have to have at least a temporary localized stoppage of fighting to allow them to move,” he told reporters.
Kirby said the administration is working “hour by hour” and stressed that nothing is set in stone until “everything is finished.”
Regarding the timetable for a possible hostage deal, a US official said the negotiation process had reached the stage where a deal could be reached “at any time” – but warned it could also implode.
Beyond the assessment that Hamas is an unreliable actor and that talks have repeatedly failed in recent weeks, the official said there are several other complicating factors that could prevent the eventual release of the hostages and which still needed to be resolved with all parties involved.
ABC News’ Molly Nagle contributed to this report.
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