Biden’s description of cease-fire offer ‘not accurate,’ Israeli official tells NBC News

JERUSALEM — President Joe Biden’s description of Israel’s cease-fire proposal was “not accurate,” a senior Israeli official has told NBC News, as doubts grew Monday over the U.S. ally’s stance on the deal.


But the official called into question Biden’s description of the cease-fire offer as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — facing competing pressures from Washington and families of hostages on one side and right-wing ministers threatening to bring down his government on the other — said that Biden had put forward only a partial version of the Israeli proposal.
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The official specifically disputed that Israel had agreed to fully withdraw its troops from the Gaza Strip as part of a deal to free the 125 or so hostages remaining in captivity there.

“Israel has not changed its conditions to reach a permanent cease-fire.

The official also said that while the White House described the plan as originating from Israel, it was actually a proposal put forward by mediators to which Israel had made amendments and changes.

“It’s strange that they say it’s an Israeli proposal and at the same time that Israel needs to agree to it,” the official said. The official added that Israel was awaiting Hamas’ formal response to the proposal.

A U.S. official pushed back Monday, telling NBC News that Biden had outlined the proposal Israel had offered, but also acknowledged the pressure Netanyahu would face from far-right officials and so had urged the Israeli government not to back away from it.

Netanyahu himself spoke later Monday, his first public comments after days of questions over his position.

“There are other details that the U.S. president did not present to the public.”

In a separate video message, Netanyahu himself said that Israel is chasing two objectives in Gaza — the elimination of Hamas and return of the hostages.

“We insist that we complete both this and that,” he said in a video statement recorded in Hebrew.

‘You can’t count your hostages until they are home’

Biden’s speech has put Netanyahu under renewed pressure at home and abroad.

Two of his right-wing ministers threatened to pull out of the coalition that’s keeping him in power if he agrees to the cease-fire deal outlined by Biden.

His hard-line national security minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir, said Monday that he had tried to review a draft of the proposal laid out by Biden, but was denied an opportunity to do so by Netanyahu’s office. He accused Netanyahu of trying to “whitewash” the proposal and reiterated his threat to bring down the government if the prime minister accepts the deal.

At the same time, families of the Israeli hostages have stepped up their demands for the government to make a deal that could secure the release of their loved ones.

Rachel Goldberg-Polin, whose son Hersh has been held in Gaza since Oct. 7, said Monday that the proposal outlined by Biden had left her hopeful but still cautious.

“You can’t count your hostages until they are home and you are hugging them,” she told NBC News in an interview in Jerusalem, adding: “I’d love to think that this is the beginning of the end.”

Goldberg-Polin was critical of Israeli government officials who say it is more important to continue the war than to bring the remaining hostages home. “If you believe in the righteousness to continue this, let’s stop it for five hours, get out those 125, and you, you put your son, daughter, mother, brother, sister, grandfather, baby in there and continue your war with your people there,” she said. “Our people have served their time in hell for nine months.”

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