Biden, 17 other world leaders issue joint call for Hamas to immediately free hostages


US President Joe Biden leads a joint statement from the leaders of 18 countries with citizens being held hostage by Hamas calling on the terror group to immediately release them from Gaza.

The leaders of Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Spain, Thailand and the United Kingdom joined Biden in this statement. Israel was not included as the focus was on securing international support for the effort.


“We call for the immediate release of all hostages held by Hamas in Gaza for over 200 days. They include our own citizens. The fate of the hostages and the civilian population in Gaza, who are protected under international law, is of international concern,” the leaders say.

“We emphasize that the deal on the table to release the hostages would bring an immediate and prolonged ceasefire in Gaza, that would facilitate a surge of additional necessary humanitarian assistance to be delivered throughout Gaza and lead to the credible end of hostilities.”

“Gazans would be able to return to their homes and their lands with preparations beforehand to ensure shelter and humanitarian provisions,” the statement adds.

“We strongly support the ongoing mediation efforts in order to bring our people home. We reiterate our call on Hamas to release the hostages and let us end this crisis so that collectively we can focus our efforts on bringing peace and stability to the region,” the leaders say.

A senior administration official tells reporters in a briefing call previewing the joint statement that the US had tried to issue a joint statement like this earlier on in the war, but there had been disagreements among the countries regarding the language that prevented its publication.

During a meeting with US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan roughly two weeks ago, American relatives of the hostages asked the Biden administration to try again to put a joint statement together, the senior US official says.

The US managed to get unanimous support this time around because of the understanding from the countries of the increasingly dire situation in which the hostages now find themselves, the official says. The White House shared with them the elements of the deal on the table that Israel has accepted but that Hamas has rejected.

“There is a deal on the table that would bring a ceasefire immediately to Gaza with the release of women, wounded, elderly and sick hostages that is ready to go. We have worked it out in meticulous detail and Hamas has rejected that. Because of that, we still have fighting ongoing in Gaza,” the senior administration official says.

The senior official also says that US forensic analysis of Hamas’s video of Hersh Goldberg-Polin has been ongoing since it received the video on Monday, adding that the White House has been in touch with the 23-year-old Israeli-American hostage’s family and is working with Qatar, Egypt and others to secure his release, along with that of the other hostages.

During the briefing, the official shares that Biden spent over an hour with Avigail Idan and her family in the White House yesterday, letting the 4-year-old girl released in the last hostage deal in November play in the Oval Office and crawl through the door of the Resolute Desk like John F. Kennedy Jr. was seen doing as his father worked above him in an iconic 1963 photo.

As Avigail played, Biden talked with her aunt and uncle who have been raising her since her return. The four-year-old was with her parents when they were murdered by Hamas terrorists on October 7. The president also updated the family on the ongoing efforts to release the remaining hostages.

Times of Israel


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