Israel Considers Combat Pause During Muslim Holy Month

( – President Joe Biden is optimistic that there could soon be a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.

During an appearance at a New York City ice cream shop, Biden stated he hoped there would be a ceasefire in the war between Israel and Hamas by March 4th.

Biden noted that the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, expected to be around March 10th, could mark the beginning of the ceasefire. On his February 26th appearance on the “Late Night with Seth Meyers,” Biden discussed the potential agreement, saying it may happen during Ramadan. He added that any agreement must include the release of hostages still being held by Hamas in Gaza.

Despite Biden’s optimism, officials from Israel, Hamas, and Qatar expressed caution that a deal for a ceasefire can be reached by the beginning of March. Israeli officials said Israel would like to reach a deal with Hamas immediately but that Hamas is pushing for excessive demands. Biden’s optimism on a deal was premature, according to Hamas official Ahmad Abdel-Hadi, who said Hamas “is not interested in giving up any of its demands.”

Though he did not elaborate, Qatar Foreign Ministry spokesperson Majed al-Ansari said, “We feel optimistic” about the ongoing negotiations during a February 27th press conference. However, he added caution because of the disagreements remaining over “numbers, ratios and troop movements.”

Negotiators from the United States, Qatar, and Egypt are continuing to hold discussions about an agreement to free 40 women and older hostages still being held by Hamas in exchange for a six-week ceasefire, the release of around 300 mostly women, minors, and older Palestinian prisoners and an increase in aid deliveries to Gaza. There are hopes that during the ceasefire, negotiations can continue about topics such as releasing male Israeli soldiers being held hostage, Palestinian prisoners who are serving longer sentences, and bringing an end to the war.

During the October 7th attack that killed 1,200, Hamas captured around 250 people. It is estimated around 130 hostages remain in Gaza, though Israel has said a quarter of the remaining hostages are dead.

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