“More than 12 people could be released… Detained Americans are our top priority.”
The U.S. White House emphasized the importance of releasing its citizens, saying negotiations between Israel and Hamas for the release of hostages are close to an agreement.
In an interview with CNN’s Weekend Current Affairs on the 19th (local time), John Finer, deputy adviser to the White House’s National Security Council, said, “(Both sides) are extremely close to negotiations,” and added, “The United States is watching this at the presidential level every minute and hour.” said.
“We are closer (to a deal) than we have been at any time since these negotiations began a few weeks ago,” he said. “The mantra that nothing is agreed until everything is agreed also applies to these sensitive negotiations.”
“There is currently no agreement in place,” he said. “Given the dangerous situation in Gaza, it is imperative to return people to their homes as quickly as possible.” However, he reiterated that no agreement was reached.
When asked about the number of hostages alive that day, he said, “I don’t know the exact number,” and “We are not in direct contact with Hamas.” Still, he said, “There are a significant number of Americans detained, and they are our top priority.”
In an interview with NBC’s Weekend Currents on the same day, he explained the negotiation situation by saying, “What I can say at this point is that some of the unresolved areas, very complex, very sensitive negotiations, have been narrowed down.”
“I believe we are closer to a deal than we have been at any time since we began the process to close this deal,” Finer said. “We are monitoring this moment by moment.”
He said the number of hostages that could be released was “probably higher than 12.” However, he did not immediately answer whether the hostages that could be released were women and children, saying, “Discussing details will not help complete the agreement.”
Deputy Assistant Director Finer also explained in an ABC interview that day, “In the context of hostage negotiations, we have been referring to an extended period of cessation of fighting that would allow the hostages to actually be safely released.”
He also mentioned humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip, saying, “This is a separate priority from hostage negotiations, but an agreement and a cessation of hostilities will make it easier.” However, he said that an official ceasefire would help Hamas.
“(Hamas) has said that their goal is to repeat the events of October 7, when the horrific attack occurred, as long as they can until Israel is gone,” Finer said. “This is clearly unacceptable.”
“We believe that most of the hostages are alive,” he said in an ABC interview. “We will try to get as many of them as possible, including many Americans, to escape.”
Mark Jones is a world traveler and journalist for News Rebeat. With a curious mind and a love of adventure, Mark brings a unique perspective to the latest global events and provides in-depth and thought-provoking coverage of the world at large.