Hamas says Biden remarks on Gaza hostages ‘setback’ for ceasefire negotiation

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Remarks by US President Joe Biden that a ceasefire in Gaza would be possible if Hamas released its hostages are a “setback” to negotiations, the Palestinian militant group said Sunday.

“We condemn this position by the US president, we consider it a setback from the outcomes of the latest round of negotiations, which led to the movement’s agreement to the proposal put forward by mediators,” Hamas said in a statement.

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Biden said on Saturday that a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war would be possible “tomorrow” if Hamas gave up hostages seized in its October 7 attack.

The US president raised the topic of the hostages during a speech in Seattle after warning Israel he would stop supplying artillery shells and other weapons if it sends ground troops into the city of Rafah.

Negotiations between Hamas and Israel for a truce and hostage exchange deal, mediated by Egypt, Qatar and the United States, appear to have stalled amid Israeli military action in the southern Gaza city.

Hamas said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had “rushed to overturn” the talks by launching an offensive in Rafah.

The militant group accused the Israeli government of “escalating their brutal massacres in various areas of the Gaza Strip” and “reaffirming their pursuit of continuing the genocidal war in Gaza”.

Israel defied international opposition this week and sent tanks and troops into eastern Rafah, effectively shutting a key aid crossing.

On Saturday, the Israeli military expanded an evacuation order for eastern Rafah and said 300,000 Palestinians had left the area.

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