Sullivan says Hamas still needs to respond to cease-fire proposal

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan on Sunday called on Hamas to respond and accept the terms of an Israeli-proposed cease-fire and hostage release deal aimed at ending the war.

President Biden announced the proposal late last month, stating it includes a three-part plan towards an end to the fighting and the release of the remaining hostages.

“By far the most effective, certain and right way to get all of the hostages out is to get a comprehensive cease-fire and hostage deal that President Biden described in public a few days ago, that Israel has accepted, and now that we are awaiting Hamas to respond to,” Sullivan said Sunday in an interview on CBS News’s “Face the Nation.”

“If Hamas would say yes to that deal, there would be a cease-fire in place, hostages would be coming home, more humanitarian aid would be surging in, and a better day for the Palestinian people would be- would begin to unfold,” he added.

Hamas is believed to be still holding more than 100 hostages in the Gaza Strip, with more than 30 of them believed to be dead.

The U.S.-designated terrorist group kidnapped more than 250 people from southern Israel during its surprise Oct. 7 assault, in which about 1,200 people were killed. About 100 hostages were released in a week-long cease-fire deal last November.

Sullivan’s remarks came one day after a special operation was conducted in Gaza that saw the rescue of four hostages. The operation marked the largest recovery of living hostages since the war began.

“There could be a cease-fire tomorrow, today even, if Hamas would say yes to the deal. So, from our perspective, the world needs to continue to reinforce that message quite clearly and strongly,” Sullivan said. “We have not gotten an official response yet…response yet from Hamas. We’re waiting for one.”

Last week, the leaders of 18 countries with citizens held as hostages issued a joint statement urging Hamas and Israel to agree to the cease-fire proposal.

“There is no time to lose. We call on Hamas to close this agreement, that Israel is ready to move forward with, and begin the process of releasing our citizens,” the statement read.

“At this decisive moment, we call on the leaders of Israel as well as Hamas to make whatever final compromises are necessary to close this deal and bring relief to the families of our hostages, as well as those on both sides of this terrible conflict, including the civilian populations.  It is time for the war to end and this deal is the necessary starting point,” it continued.

Since the Oct. 7 attack, Israeli forces launched a counteroffensive in Gaza that has killed more than 36,000 Palestinians, per the Gaza Health Ministry.

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