US sees ‘real progress’ on framework for hostage releases, says senior official

Negotiators working on a phased framework deal to secure the release of the remaining hostages held by the Islamist terror group Hamas in Gaza have made “real progress” over the last few weeks, a senior Biden administration official says.

The hostage release deal was the main focus of a 45-minute telephone call between President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu earlier.

Although there were still some “significant” gaps to close, the official says, “It’s pretty much there.”

Biden in the call stressed that the United States did not support an Israeli military operation in Rafah, the last Hamas stronghold in Gaza, without a plan to ensure the safety of civilians. Some 1.3 million people are sheltering in Gaza’s southernmost city.

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