“I’ve been talking with the people involved every single day,” Biden told reporters on Tuesday at the White House, adding, “I believe it’s going to happen, but I don’t want to get into detail.”
Asked what message he has for families of the hostages, he replied, “Hang in there. We’re coming.”
Biden offered no timeline for an agreement on the Hamas captives; nor did he comment on the potential scope of a hostage release. A senior US official appeared to walk back his statement, telling CNN that the negotiations remained volatile and could break down.
“It’s closer, but it’s not done,” the unidentified official said.
The Israeli government has estimated that around 240 hostages are still being held in Gaza more than a month after the Hamas attacks that ignited the region’s latest war on October 7. Hamas fighters killed an estimated 1,200 people, and the group claimed to have taken enough hostages to secure the release of all Palestinians held in Israeli jails.
Just four of the hostages, including two Americans, have been released, and Israeli troops rescued a soldier who had been captured. Media reports have suggested that negotiations are centered on a prisoner swap for the release of dozens of hostages. Hamas also is pressing for a ceasefire. More than 11,000 Palestinians have been killed since the fighting began, according to the local authorities.
Hamas announced in a statement on Monday that it’s prepared to release up to 70 women and children in return for 275 Palestinian prisoners and a five-day halt to the fighting. The talks are reportedly being brokered by Qatar and involve Mossad and the US Central Intelligence Agency.
Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have faced increasing political pressure to free the hostages, as well as calls from humanitarian organizations to implement a ceasefire. Nine US citizens remain missing and could be among the hostages. White House National Security Adviser confirmed earlier this week that US officials don’t know how many of those Americans are still alive.