Washington : US President Joe Biden called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad al-Thani of Qatar and President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi of Egypt to discuss the latest situation in the Middle East following an agreement between Israel and Hamas on the release of hostages.
Israel and Hamas agreed on Wednesday to a temporary four-day ceasefire to allow the release of 50 hostages held by the militant group in Gaza in exchange for 150 Palestinian detainees and the entry of humanitarian aid into the besieged territory.
The deal, once implemented, will be the first major diplomatic breakthrough and pause in fighting since the war began after Hamas attacked Israel on October 7.
Biden on Wednesday spoke with Netanyahu to welcome the deal, the White House said in a readout of the call.
The two leaders discussed the pause in fighting, which will allow needed-humanitarian assistance to enter into Gaza, it added.
Netanyahu thanked Biden for his “tireless efforts” and those of his team to help broker the deal, the White House said.
“The two leaders agreed that the work is not yet done and the president assured the prime minister that he will continue working to secure the release of all remaining hostages. The president further emphasised the importance of maintaining calm along the Lebanese border as well as in the West Bank,” it said.
In his call with al-Thani, the US president expressed his appreciation to Qatar and the personal role of the Emir and his team in reaching a deal for the release of hostages held by Hamas, together with a humanitarian pause in Gaza, the White House said.
“The two leaders committed to remain in close contact to ensure the deal is fully implemented and to ultimately secure the release of all hostages. They reiterated the importance of protecting civilian lives, respecting international humanitarian law, and increasing and sustaining humanitarian assistance to Palestinians in Gaza,” according to the White House readout.
“President Biden and Sheikh Tamim agreed to continue close consultation on setting the conditions for a durable and sustainable peace in the Middle East to include the establishment of a Palestinian state,” it said.
In his call with al-Sisi, Biden expressed his appreciation for Egypt’s efforts to reach a deal for the release of the hostages held by Hamas, together with a humanitarian pause in Gaza.
They discussed coordination to further surge humanitarian assistance to Palestinians in Gaza.
Blinken thanked Qatar’s critical efforts to help broker the deal for the release of at least 50 hostages, including Americans, taken by Hamas during its October 7 assault against Israel.
“They discussed ongoing efforts to obtain the release of the remaining hostages and to urgently increase the flow of humanitarian aid into Gaza. Blinken and Prime Minister al-Thani also discussed the importance of ensuring the safe passage of foreign nationals out of Gaza,” said Matthew Miller, the state department spokesperson.
“He stressed that the US remains committed to advancing a two-state solution for Israelis and Palestinians and reaffirmed the importance of the strategic partnership between the US and Qatar,” said Miller.
Blinken also spoke with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan al Saud during which he welcomed the hostage release deal and the pause that will accelerate humanitarian assistance deliveries to civilians in Gaza, the spokesperson said.
“The secretary affirmed the urgency of addressing humanitarian needs in Gaza, preventing further spread of the conflict, and reinforcing regional stability and security. He underscored the continued US commitment to the establishment of an independent Palestinian state,” he said.
According to Miller, “Blinken also welcomed Saudi Arabia’s efforts to secure a durable peace agreement in Yemen ,” Miller said.
Meanwhile, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen CQ Brown spoke with Chief of the Israeli General Staff Lt Gen Herzi Halevi over phone.
The two military leaders discussed the current security environment throughout the Middle East, a release said. ( With PTI inputs )