Senator Chris Coons, Democrat of Delaware, defended news of a possible agreement to secure the release of hostages held by Hamas before Thanksgiving, but rejected calls for a ceasefire in Gaza.
Coons, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, explained that there is a difference between the ceasefire in Gaza and the humanitarian pause.
“Okay, let’s differentiate here between a ceasefire – some people are calling for a ceasefire and protests across Europe and in our country, which is what they mean,” Coons told Fox News Sunday host Shannon Bream. Israel must stop fighting Hamas, and must end its campaign in Gaza — or a pause negotiated between Israel and Hamas to allow the release of Israeli, American and other hostages, and allow in food, fuel and medicine. “Gaza. I think a brief, negotiated cessation of fighting would be a good thing, and I would strongly support it. A ceasefire would mean the end of the Israeli campaign against Hamas. I don’t support that, and neither does the president.”
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“The news of a potential hostage deal, Shannon, is great news right before Thanksgiving for the 10 American families whose loved ones are being held hostage and more than 230 others. I met with those families, Shannon, in Tel Aviv,” he added, “in Washington, and it is heartbreaking that we “With parents who don’t know how their children are and believe they are trapped in tunnels… under Gaza.” “This is a good development today.”
The Washington Post first reported on Saturday that the United States, Israel and Hamas had reached a tentative agreement to release 50 or more hostages in smaller groups every 24 hours. The release could begin within the next few days, according to reports.
In a Washington Post op-ed published on Saturday, President Biden pledged that as he wrote, “my team and I are working hour by hour, doing everything we can to get the hostages released.” In the article titled “The United States will not back down from the challenge of Putin and Hamas,” Biden also declared that “every innocent Palestinian life lost is a tragedy that tears apart families and communities,” and pledged that “Gaza must never again be used as a platform for terrorism.”
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“As long as Hamas adheres to its destructive ideology, a ceasefire is not peace,” Biden wrote. “For Hamas members, each ceasefire is a time they use to rebuild their rocket stock, reposition fighters, and begin killing operations by attacking innocents again. An outcome that leaves Hamas in control of Gaza would once again perpetuate its hatred and deprive Palestinians from controlling Gaza. “An opportunity for civilians to build something better for themselves.”
The United States is providing weapons and intelligence support to Israel as part of its attack on Gaza aimed at eliminating Hamas following the October 7 attack, which killed more than 1,200 people. Biden repeatedly spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and said he was working to release hostages held by Hamas, including Americans.
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At least 11,400 Palestinians have been killed since the war began, according to the Hamas-controlled Health Ministry in Gaza, which does not differentiate between civilian and combatant deaths.
Demonstrators demanding a ceasefire in Gaza have held protests across the country, including clashes this week with police outside the Democratic National Committee headquarters. Coons himself was confronted on camera while riding on a train by an activist demanding that the senator agree to a ceasefire.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.