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Kirby: US remains hopeful for '6 weeks of peace' with hostage deal that 'Hamas has not fully rejected'

White House national security communications adviser John Kirby said Sunday that the United States remains hopeful for “six weeks of peace” with a hostage deal that “Hamas has not fully rejected.”

Speaking with host George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s “This Week,” Kirby said Israel assured the Biden administration that the Jewish state will not launch a campaign in the final Hamas stronghold of Rafah “until we’ve had a chance to really share our perspectives and our concerns with them.”

“If we’re able to get this hostage deal in place, we are still working at that. Hamas has not fully rejected it,” Kirby said. “They are considering this proposal on the table. If we can get that in place, then that gives you six weeks of peace. It gives you no fighting for six weeks, and that includes no fighting in Rafah. And what we’re hoping is that after six weeks of a temporary cease-fire, we can maybe get something more enduring in place.”

Hamas said Saturday it was reviewing a new Israeli proposal for a cease-fire in Gaza as Egypt intensified efforts to broker a deal to end the months-long war and stave off a planned Israeli ground offensive in the southern city of Rafah. Senior Hamas official Khalil al-Hayya gave no details of Israel’s offer but said it was in response to a Hamas proposal two weeks ago, the Associated Press reported.

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Negotiations this month centered around a six-week cease-fire proposal and the release of 40 civilian and sick hostages in exchange for freeing hundreds of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.

A separate Hamas statement said leaders from the three main militant groups active in Gaza discussed attempts to end the war. It didn’t mention the Israeli proposal. The statement came hours after an Egyptian delegation ended a visit to Israel where it discussed a “new vision” for a prolonged cease-fire in Gaza, according to an Egyptian official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to the AP.

Kirby also addressed the planned deliveries of aid to flow into Gaza from an offshore pier now under construction by the U.S. military. 

“The Israelis have started to meet the commitments that President Biden asked them to meet,” Kirby said. “This pier is now being constructed. It will take probably two to three weeks before we can really see it in operation. I mean, it’s a fairly complicated procedure to get that in place. And we’re working closely with the Israelis about how the operation of the pier would work.” 

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Rafah camp

Stephanopoulos also pressed Kirby on the anti-Israel protests festering with antisemitism unfolding at American college campuses – and specifically about bringing in police to break up demonstrations. 

“The president knows that there are very strong feelings, George, about the war in Gaza,” Kirby said. “He understands that, he respects that. And as he has said many times, we certainly respect the right of peaceful protest. People should have the ability to air their views and to share their perspectives publicly. But it has to be peaceful. We’ll leave it to local authorities to determine how these protests are managed.”

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“But we want them to be peaceful protests,” he added. “And obviously, we don’t want to see anybody hurt in the process of peacefully protesting. But again, the president understands that. We absolutely condemn the antisemitism language that we’ve heard of late, and we certainly condemn all the hate speech and the threats of violence out there in these protests. We understand they’re important, but they do need to be peaceful.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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