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The Biden administration has been pushing allies in the Middle East to pressure Hamas to accept the latest Israeli ceasefire and hostage proposal in an effort to pause the fighting in Gaza. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has held numerous calls with key players in the region, and other top State Department officials have been involved in this effort. White House Middle East Coordinator Brett McGurk and CIA Director Bill Burns have also traveled to key countries in the region to add traction to the negotiations.

Initial response from Hamas to the Israeli proposal indicated significant gaps, with Hamas stating that the proposal did not guarantee a permanent ceasefire and allowed for Israeli forces to remain in Gaza territory. Despite this, the Biden administration believes there is an opportunity to close the deal and Egypt has received encouraging signs from Hamas on the latest proposal. Hamas is expected to respond to Israel’s proposal in the coming days.

US officials are urging Qatar, Egypt, and Turkey to increase pressure on Hamas by threatening to freeze bank accounts and restrict travel for Hamas members. Qatar, which hosts a Hamas political office, has been urged to threaten to kick out the group if they do not accept the deal. Egypt has also been urged to increase pressure on Hamas, potentially by cutting off access points from Egypt to Gaza, a key lifeline for the enclave.

The Biden administration’s pressure campaign coincides with Biden’s speech last Friday declaring that Hamas must accept the Israeli proposal on the table. As US officials continue to exert pressure on Hamas, there is private acknowledgement that there is no plan B if Hamas rejects the deal. The US political calendar is also a factor, with hopes that the war would end by the beginning of the calendar year, well before the presidential campaign’s general election.

As the ceasefire negotiations continue, there is uncertainty about whether the pressure campaign will succeed in getting Hamas to accept the deal. US officials are aware of the challenges in convincing Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar, who is believed to be hiding underground, to accept the deal. Sinwar may not see it as in his interest to accept the deal, further complicating the negotiation process. The urgency to reach a resolution is heightened by the upcoming Democratic National Convention where Biden is set to receive his party’s nomination.

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