AP Photo/Manu Fernandez
Joe Biden

Biden said he expected the ceasefire and hostage release deal to be done by ‘the end of the weekend.’

By Shula Rosen

An official reported that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was “surprised” that US President Joe Biden declared that a hostage deal and temporary ceasefire would be in place “by Monday.”

In addition, Hamas leaders said that Biden’s optimism that there would be an agreement was “premature.”

Speaking on “Late Night with Seth Meyers,” Biden said he expected the ceasefire and hostage release deal would start “I hope by the beginning of the weekend, I mean the end of the weekend.”

A Qatari official said that their country is “pushing hard” for the agreement and was “upbeat and optimistic on Gaza mediation talks.”

However, Israeli officials were surprised that the US President spoke of the agreement on television as if it were already agreed upon and that it was going to be implemented by early next week.

Israeli officials said that they are ready to agree to the deal that would see a 40-day pause in fighting for the release of 40 hostages and 400 Palestinian prisoners, but indicated that Hamas was holding up the negotiations with excessive demands.

They also said that Israel is insisting female soldiers be part of the first group of hostages released.

A Hamas official told Reuters that any hope for a hostage release deal was premature and added, there are “still big gaps to be bridged.”

They said, “The primary and main issues of the ceasefire and the withdrawal of Israeli forces are not clearly stated, which delays reaching an agreement.”

Last month, Netanyahu called Hamas demands for a permanent ceasefire “delusional” and added that Israel would not agree to any plan that would prevent a “total victory” over Hamas.

The plan was negotiated in Paris with officials from Qatar, Israel, US and Egypt.

Included in the provision for the release of 40 hostages, mainly women, elderly men and those who are seriously ill, Israel is also reportedly demanding the release of all female soldiers in exchange for Palestinian terrorist prisoners responsible for murdering Israelis.