Biden meeting with families of American hostages at White House with top aides

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

US President Joe Biden responds to a reporter as he leaves after speaking in Nantucket, Massachusetts, November 24, 2023, about hostages freed by Hamas in the first stage of a swap under a four-day temporary ceasefire deal. (AP Photo/Stephanie Scarbrough)
US President Joe Biden responds to a reporter as he leaves after speaking in Nantucket, Massachusetts, November 24, 2023, about hostages freed by Hamas in the first stage of a swap under a four-day temporary ceasefire deal. (AP Photo/Stephanie Scarbrough)

WASHINGTON — US President Joe Biden is currently meeting with relatives of American citizens being held hostage in Gaza at the White House.

Joining him are US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and US Deputy National Security Adviser Jon Finer, the White House says.

The Biden administration is seeking to restart negotiations aimed at another pause in the Gaza fighting in exchange for the release of more hostages. A seven-day truce last month brought home over 100 hostages to their families, though 135 still remain.

Biden has spoken with the relatives of hostages several times since the start of the war, doing so even before Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but this is the first time he is hosting a group of them at the White House.

Of the 135 hostages still in Gaza, seven are US citizens and one is a US Green Card holder.

Participating in the meeting are Yael and Adi Alexander, relatives of 19-year-old hostage Idan; Ruby and Roy Chen, relatives of 19-year-old hostage Itay Chen; Ronen and Orna Neutra, relatives of 22-year-old hostage Omer; Jonathan Dekel-Chen and Gillian Kaye, relatives of 35-year-old hostage Sagui Dekel-Chen; Aviva, Elan, Hanna and Shir Siegel, relatives of 62-year-old hostage Keith Siegel; and Liz Naftali, a relative of released 4-year-old hostage Avigail Idan.

Participating by phone are Jon and Rachel Goldberg-Polin, parents of 23-year-old hostage Hirsh; and Iris Haggai, daughter of 70-year-old hostage Judih Weinstein and 72-year-old hostage Gad Haggai.

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