US, 17 Other Countries Release Joint Statement Demanding Hamas Release The Hostages

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The United States, in collaboration with leaders from 17 other nations whose citizens are also held captive in Gaza, issued a joint statement on Thursday calling upon Hamas to release the remaining hostages.

A senior official from the administration disclosed that attempts to formulate a joint statement were made earlier in the conflict but faced challenges due to differing perspectives on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict among the participating countries.

“We call for the immediate release of all hostages held by Hamas and Gaza now for over 200 days. They include our citizens,” the statement said. “The fate of the hostages and the civilian population in Gaza who are protected under international law is of international concern.”

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The version of the joint statement unveiled on Thursday had been under development for the past two weeks, according to the official.

A senior administration official highlighted a proposed deal aimed at securing a ceasefire by releasing women, wounded, elderly, and sick hostages. However, Hamas rejected this proposal.

The statement bears the signatures of leaders from the United States, Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Spain, Thailand, and the United Kingdom.

According to the statement, the leaders underscored the potential for an immediate and prolonged ceasefire through the proposed deal, which would also facilitate the delivery of crucial humanitarian aid and pave the way for a credible resolution to the conflict.

“Gazans would be able to return to their homes and their lands with preparations beforehand to ensure shelter and humanitarian provisions,” according to the statement.

The official refuted allegations suggesting that Israel was obstructing the deal, highlighting that the US proposal had garnered full agreement from the Israeli side during recent discussions between President Biden and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

However, the official expressed disappointment with Hamas’s response to the proposal, characterizing it as unconstructive.

In response to the joint statement, Jon Polin and Rachel Goldberg-Polin, parents of Hersh Goldberg Polin, an American-Israeli citizen held by Hamas, expressed hope that the unified stance of these nations would exert pressure until all hostages are safely returned. “We are hopeful and prayerful that this is the beginning of a galvanizing force of these countries who are going to continue going forward and shout in a loud unified way that they are not stopping until all of these hostages come home.”

The official clarified that while Hamas leaders make public statements, the individuals making decisions reside within Gaza, hidden deep underground alongside the hostages. Despite this, a viable deal exists, which addresses many of Hamas’s demands, emphasizing the need for the release of vulnerable hostages to initiate progress.

“The core truth, there’s a deal on the table. It meets nearly all of the demands that Hamas has had, including in key elements, one of which I just spoke with,” the official said. “And what they need to do is release the vulnerable category of hostages to get things moving.’”

The Hostages and Families Forum issued a statement welcoming the unified call for the immediate release of all captives and urging other leaders to join this endeavor. They emphasized the urgency of securing the release of those held by Hamas for over 200 days, highlighting the international concern for their fate and the civilian population in Gaza.

“We welcome the statement of the world leaders calling for the immediate release of all the hostages, and which puts their issue at the top of the world’s priorities, and call on other leaders to join this call.

“The statement is the result of hard work carried out by the families of the abductees in recent months, in front of decision-makers from all over the world, with the aim of bringing all of them home, those who are alive for rehabilitation and the murdered for burial.

“We call for the immediate release of all the abductees that have been held by Hamas in Gaza for over 200 days. They include our citizens. The fate of the abductees and the civilian population in Gaza, protected under international law, is of international concern.

“We will emphasize that the pending deal for the release of the hostages will lead to an immediate and prolonged ceasefire in Gaza, which will facilitate the introduction of necessary humanitarian aid to be provided throughout Gaza and lead to a reliable end to hostilities. The residents of Gaza will be able to return to their homes and lands with preliminary preparations that will ensure protection under humanitarian conditions.”

Source: {Matzav.com}

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