An Israeli offensive in Rafah would embolden Hamas in hostage talks – US

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US bureau chief

National security communications advisor John Kirby speaks with reporters in the James Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House, Monday, May 6, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
National security communications advisor John Kirby speaks with reporters in the James Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House, Monday, May 6, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

White House National Security spokesperson John Kirby rejects arguments that US President Joe Biden’s public break with Israel regarding Rafah will embolden Hamas to reject compromises in the ongoing hostage negotiations.

“Any kind of major Rafah ground operation would actually strengthen Hamas’s hands at the negotiating table, not Israel’s. That’s our view,” Kirby says in a briefing with reporters.

“If I’m Mr. Sinwar, and I’m sitting down in my tunnel… and I’m seeing innocent people falling victim to major significant combat operations in Rafah, then I have less of an incentive to want to come to the negotiating table,” the White House spokesperson argues.

Kirby says that CIA chief Bill Burns is departing the region after arriving over the weekend to try and secure a breakthrough in the hostage talks. “Interlocutors from other delegations are still in discussions in Cairo. Those talks are still going on,” Kirby says. Israel’s delegation left Egypt earlier today.

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