President Joe Biden declined to answer questions Monday after his meeting with King Abdullah II of Jordan, but said the two were working on a hostage agreement to achieve a temporary ceasefire.
“The United States is working on a hostage agreement between Israel and Hamas, which would bring an immediate and sustained period of calm to Gaza for at least six weeks,” Biden said.
For his part, Abdullah called for a permanent ceasefire.
‘We need a lasting ceasefire now. This war must end,’ he stated.
“The United States is working on a hostage agreement between Israel and Hamas, which would bring an immediate and sustained period of calm to Gaza for at least six weeks,” President Joe Biden said after meeting with King Abdullah II of Jordan.
Biden’s refusal to speak to the press came after special counsel Robert Hur issued his report, which contained the politically embarrassing remark of the president as a “well-intentioned old man with a bad memory.”
When the report was released Thursday, he delivered hastily scheduled remarks criticizing Hur for casting doubt on his memory, including the death of his son Beau.
Biden answered a brief question early Monday as the king, Queen Rania and Crown Prince Hussein arrived at the White House, but did not answer additional questions about the fate of the hostages.
Abdullah and Biden seek to move the war between Israel and Hamas into a new phase in which Israeli hostages are freed and fighting stops for prolonged periods.
“The key elements of the deal are on the table,” Biden said. ‘There are still gaps, but I have encouraged Israeli leaders to continue working towards the agreement. “The United States will do everything possible to make this happen.”
The king warned that humanitarian catastrophes were brewing without a ceasefire and expressed concern about a possible Israeli military operation in the border town of Rafah.
‘We cannot afford an Israeli attack on Rafah; It is certain to produce another humanitarian catastrophe,’ he warned.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has asked the military to prepare a plan to evacuate around 1.5 million Palestinian civilians who have fled south of Rafah in search of safety to continue their operation against Hamas.
Netanyahu and Biden had important exchanges on the possible expansion of Israeli military operations in Rafah when the two men spoke on Sunday.
Biden reiterated America’s opposition to the idea under “current conditions” as more than 1.3 million people take refuge there.
The president, asked Monday whether Netanyahu would follow his advice, responded: “Everyone does.”
Jordan is one of many Middle Eastern nations encouraging the White House to pressure Israel over its harsh campaign against Hamas.
Jordan, Egypt and the Palestinian Authority in October canceled a planned meeting with Biden less than 24 hours before it was scheduled to begin in Amman, the Jordanian capital.
Jordan and other Arab states have been highly critical of Israel’s actions.
For his part, Biden praised the work of the Jordanian king and his country for helping with the humanitarian crisis that has affected the Palestinian people while the war between Israel and Hamas continues.
Palestinians receive relief food supplies in the city of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip.
A Palestinian family on the beach at sunset near the Rafah refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip
President Joe Biden, center, and first lady Jill Biden, second right, pose for a photo as they greet King Abdullah II of Jordan, second left, Queen Rania, right, and Crown Prince Hussein, left, on the North Portico of the White House.
The Palestinian death toll from the war has exceeded 28,000 people, according to the Gaza Ministry of Health. A quarter of Gaza residents are dying of hunger.
The war began with Hamas’s assault on Israel on October 7, in which militants killed about 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and kidnapped about 250.
Israel says around 100 hostages remain in Hamas captivity, while Hamas is holding the remains of about 30 others who were killed on October 7 or died in captivity. Three hostages were mistakenly killed by the military after escaping from their captors in December.
Biden’s meeting with King Abdullah also came a few weeks after three US service members were killed in an airstrike in Jordan.