White House says it's working for Hamas surrender even as it tries to rein in Israel


The White House said it remains committed to ensuring a Hamas surrender and has engaged in conversations with intermediary countries, including Qatar and Egypt, to achieve that end.

In a statement to Fox News Digital, a spokesperson for the White House National Security Council said it delivered that message “forcefully” to counterparts in Qatar and Egypt, which have acted as mediators in the ongoing Middle East conflict. U.S. officials’ continued push for a surrender underscores the delicate balance the White House is seeking to achieve as it works to end hostilities.

“We’ve been clear publicly, as well as privately, that this conflict could end today if Hamas would just lay down their arms and that if Hamas cared about the lives of the Palestinian people, they would do that,” the National Security Council spokesperson said.

White House deputy press secretary Andrew Bates said President Biden wants Hamas to surrender and pointed to examples of the president and other officials saying so in the past. Biden remarked during his State of the Union address last month that the conflict would end if Hamas stood down, released its hostages and handed over those responsible for the Oct. 7 terrorist attacks in Israel.

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U.S. President Biden

“Hamas could end this conflict today by releasing the hostages, laying down arms, and surrendering those responsible for Oct. 7,” Biden remarked during his State of the Union address last month. (Jacquelyn Martin/AP/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Yet, the White House asserts that it is actively working to achieve a Hamas surrender even as Biden intensifies pressure on the Israeli government. In a phone call Thursday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Biden called for an immediate cease-fire, saying it is “essential to stabilize and improve the humanitarian situation and protect innocent civilians.” 

According to a readout of the call released by the White House, Biden further stated that U.S. policy would hinge on Israel’s response to humanitarian concerns in Gaza. 

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Earlier this week, seven World Central Kitchen aid workers were killed by Israeli airstrikes, adding to growing concerns about the humanitarian situation on the ground in Gaza. Israel’s bombardment of Gaza targeting Hamas is now in its fifth month – part of its response to terrorist attacks committed by the militant group on Oct. 7, 2023 – which resulted in more than 1,200 civilian deaths and has been called “Israel’s 9/11.” 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Biden called for a cease-fire in a conversation Thursday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (Abir Sultan/Pool Photo via AP, File)

“It’s a signal that the U.S. government is losing patience with the approach that the Israeli government has taken in Gaza, and that there may be some appetite in the Biden administration to put tighter controls on how its military and other resources are being used by the Israeli government,” Ian Hurd, the director of Northwestern University’s Weinberg College Center for International and Area Studies, told Fox News Digital.

“I think there’s a longer-term shift going on with global support, and the Netanyahu government may be miscalculating the strength of its military backers.”

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Hurd added that focus should be placed on Israel’s actions in Gaza, rather than Hamas’ actions or response to U.S. pressure.

Palestinians look at destruction

The aftermath of an Israeli strike at a building in Deir al Balah, Gaza Strip, on Jan. 14. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

Jonathan Schanzer, senior vice president for research at the nonpartisan Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said Biden’s actions and decision to reprimand Netanyahu will embolden Hamas, characterizing the White House as an “inadvertent ally of Hamas.” He also argued Biden hasn’t called for a Hamas surrender forcefully enough.

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“Why would Hamas make a deal for hostages right now, when it’s the U.S. that is putting significant pressure on the Israelis, and they’re holding the Israelis back from finishing off Hamas? Why would they want to make any concessions?” Schanzer said. “They’re holding all the cards right now, and some of the cards have just been handed to them by the administration.”

“There’s a weird equivalence thing going on here, where the administration is beating up on its allies and ignoring the crimes of its adversaries and enemies,” he continued. “And one does get a sense here that politics is a major factor.”

Fox News Digital’s Michael Lee contributed to this report.



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