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Blinken in Israel says Hamas proposal 'creates space' for possible hostage deal

Although Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denounced Hamas’ response to a proposed hostage and cease-fire deal as “delusional,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said during a visit to the region that there’s still a chance for an agreement to be reached.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) looks on as US Secretary of State Antony Blinken gives statements to the media inside The Kirya, which houses the Israeli Defence Ministry, after their meeting in Tel Aviv on Oct. 12, 2023.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday that the Biden administration’s focus in the immediate aftermath of Oct. 7 was to get the hostages back to their families. Blinken is set to meet with families of hostages Thursday morning before concluding his Israel visit. 

On Tuesday, Hamas published its response to the outline put forward in Paris, which proposed a 135-day pause in the fighting, during which the remaining hostages captured during its assault on Israel in October would be released. The proposal also asks for release of Palestinian prisoners and requires no Israeli surveillance activity in Gaza skies.

Addressing journalists in Tel Aviv on his first day of visit to Israel, Blinken said Hamas' response provides an opening. "While there are some clear nonstarters in Hamas’ response, we do think it creates space for an agreement to be reached."

Blinken met earlier in the day with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and several senior Israeli security officials. He also met with Israel’s president, Isaac Herzog. 

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