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Biden says Israel-Hamas ceasefire is ‘close’ and could start next week

President Joe Biden on Monday said a new ceasefire between Israel and Hamas could take effect by the start of next week, giving new hope to advocates who’ve pushed for a pause in the fighting to enable the return of hostages by the militant group.

Mr Biden, who was in New York City for a taping of the NBC programme Late Night with Seth Meyers, was visiting a Van Leeuwen ice cream parlour near the network’s Rockefeller Centre headquarters when he was asked about the prospects for a ceasefire and pressed specifically on when one could take effect.

The president replied: “I hope by the end of the weekend”.

Continuing, he elaborated by telling reporters traveling with him that his national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, has told him that a ceasefire is “close” but talks are “not done yet”.

“My hope is by next Monday we’ll have a ceasefire,” he added,

Mr Biden’s comments came just hours after a serving US Air Force member died after self-immolating outside Israel’s embassy in Washington in protest of the four-month-old conflict, which was sparked by the 7 October terrorist attacks on Israel by Hamas.

The deceased airman, who was identified as 25-year-old Aaron Bushnell of San Antonio, Texas, filmed himself and live-streamed it onto the social media platform, Twitch, claiming he was acting to “no longer be complicit in genocide”.

According to the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry, more than 29,000 Palestinians have died from the effects of Israel’s retaliatory strikes, which the country’s government says are needed to root out the militant group from the Gaza Strip.

The war’s effects have also caused millions of Palestinians to lack basic needs including water, food, shelter and medical aid. 

In the US, Israel’s military response — which has thus far been backed by the Biden Administration — has caused support for Mr Biden to plummet among Arab-American and Muslim voters, particularly in the key swing state of Michigan.

Ahead of the Wolverine State’s Democratic presidential primary, some Arab-American leaders have pushed for voters to choose “uncommitted” on their ballot to send a message to Mr Biden that they will not support him for re-election unless he pushes for a ceasefire in Gaza.

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