6:33 p.m. ET, February 6, 2024
Blinken arrives in Israel for high-stakes meetings on hostage release proposal. Here’s what you should know
From CNN staff
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has arrived in Israel ahead of high-stakes meetings with top officials to discuss a proposal for a sustained cessation in the Gaza fighting in exchange for Hamas’ release of hostages held since October 7.
Hamas gave a “positive” response to the proposal, according to a short statement Tuesday, but offered few details.
Blinken said the United States is reviewing the Hamas response, as is Israel’s intelligence service, according to a statement from Mossad released by the prime minister’s office.
US President Joe Biden described the Hamas response as “a little over the top” in remarks to the press, but did not provide further details. “We’re not sure where it is. There’s a continuing negotiation right now,” he said.
The framework of the proposal calls for a first phase of civilian hostage releases to take place over a six-week pause, with three Palestinian prisoners held by Israel released for each civilian hostage returned from Gaza.
That ratio would be expected to go up for Israel Defense Forces soldiers and a longer pause is possible beyond the six weeks for the later phases.
Here are other headlines you should know:
- More on the hostage proposal: Hamas’ counteroffer to a hostage and truce framework is “reasonable,” a source familiar with the discussions told CNN. It does not include two of its most prominent and public demands: that Israeli soldiers leave Gaza or for a deal to end the war.
- Saudi Arabia’s position: Before arriving in Israel, Blinken said Saudi Arabia still has a “strong interest” in normalizing relations with Israel, but that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman made clear that the war in Gaza must end and there should be “a clear, credible, time-bound path to the establishment of a Palestinian state.”
- Senate border bill: US President Joe Biden said Tuesday that those who oppose a Senate border bill are “denying aid” to Palestinian people who are “really suffering.” The bill includes security assistance for Israel and humanitarian assistance for civilians in Gaza and the West Bank.
- Meanwhile in Gaza: There was fighting between between Israel and Hamas in multiple parts of the Gaza Strip, with operations in Khan Younis and “targeted raids in the northern and central Gaza Strip,” the Israel Defense Forces said. Journalists working for CNN in Gaza reported that Israeli fire, including the shelling of an apartment block, caused multiple casualties across the territory since Monday.