Biden admin weighs going around Israel to negotiate release of US hostages directly with Hamas: report

President Biden’s administration has held discussions about potentially negotiating with Hamas for the release of American hostages in Gaza, skirting around Israel’s involvement, according to a new report.

Such discussions would only begin if the current cease-fire talks between Israel and Hamas break down, NBC News reported. U.S. representatives would negotiate with Hamas through Qatari representatives, much as Israel’s own discussions have been taking place.

The U.S. believes there are five American citizens who were taken hostage by Hamas during its attack on Israel on Oct. 7. The U.S. is also seeking the remains of three U.S. citizens who were killed on that day. The U.S. has cautioned that it is unclear whether or how many of the hostages taken on Oct. 7 are still alive.

The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Fox News Digital.

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The report comes as Secretary of State Antony Blinken went to Egypt to launch an effort to increase pressure on Hamas and Israel to reach a cease-fire agreement in the Gaza Strip and ensure that the war does not expand into Lebanon, where Hezbollah is based and is carrying out its own attacks against Israel.

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Blinken met with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Cairo and is scheduled to travel to Israel later on Monday, where he will meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant.

Biden on May 31 outlined a three-phase cease-fire proposal from Israel that envisions the release of Israeli hostages and Palestinian prisoners, as well as the reconstruction of Gaza.

Netanyahu’s government is facing a precarious future after Israeli minister Benny Gantz announced his resignation from Netanyahu’s government this weekend.

Blinken is expected to meet with Gantz on Tuesday, a senior State Department official said.

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The departure of Gantz’s centrist party will not pose an immediate threat to the government. Still, it could have a serious impact nonetheless, leaving Netanyahu reliant on hardliners with no end in sight to the war and a possible escalation in fighting with Hezbollah in the north.

Cease-fire talks have intensified since Biden’s speech, and CIA Director William Burns met senior officials from mediators Qatar and Egypt on Wednesday in Doha to discuss the plan.

Reuters contributed to this report

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