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Israel-Hamas war: Biden’s hopes for ceasefire by end of weekend are ‘wishful thinking’, Hamas tells Sky News

Joe Biden’s claim there could be an imminent ceasefire between Israel and Hamas was “wishful thinking”, a spokesperson for the Palestinian group has told Sky News.

The US president has said he hoped a ceasefire could be secured by the end of this weekend.

Negotiators are working on a weeks-long truce between the two sides that would see the release of hostages being held in Gaza by the militant group in return for Israel releasing hundreds of Palestinian prisoners.

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Biden ‘hopeful’ of a ceasefire in Gaza

But Basem Naim refuted the president’s comment, telling Sky News that Hamas would not agree to a deal without an absolute ceasefire.

“It is wishful thinking,” he said. “Maybe because of internal political affairs in the United States to release some of the tension around the democratic parties in the year of the election.

“But practically this statement has nothing to do with the reality. Up to now, we didn’t receive any formal proposal. And I think there are still gaps between what we are calling for, what we are demanding, and what is proposed from the other parties.”

Speaking to The World with Yalda Hakim, Mr Naim said the group hoped to reach a deal by Ramadan, which is expected to begin on the evening of Sunday 10 March.

He also refused to answer questions about the whereabouts of Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar, saying the group has the right to protect him.

He said it was not true Palestinians were angry at the Hamas leadership for hiding in tunnels, as civilians in Gaza told Sky News, instead insisting most senior leaders were above ground.

Hamas has been designated a terrorist organisation by the US, the UK and other Western countries.

Proximity talks discussing pause in fighting

So-called proximity talks are taking place in Qatar, in which mediators meet delegations from both sides separately.

They are discussing a proposed six-week pause in fighting, which would also include allowing hundreds of trucks to deliver desperately needed aid into Gaza every day.

The presence of both Israeli and Hamas representatives suggests negotiations are further along than at any time since the start of February, when Israel rejected a Hamas counter-offer for a four-and-a-half-month truce.

In public, both sides continued to take distant positions on the ultimate aims of a truce, while blaming each other for holding up the talks.

Israel says it will agree only to a temporary pause in fighting to secure the release of hostages, while Hamas says it will not free them without an agreement that leads to a permanent end to the war.

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