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Jake Sullivan says U.S., Israel have agreed to 'basic contours' of a cease-fire deal

National security adviser Jake Sullivan speaks during a press briefing at the White House in Washington on Feb. 14.
Mark Schiefelbein
National security adviser Jake Sullivan speaks during a press briefing at the White House in Washington on Feb. 14.

Representatives from the U.S., Israel and several other Middle East countries have come to an "understanding" on the terms of a potential cease-fire deal in Gaza, though it's unclear whether Hamas would also sign on to the agreement.

That's according to White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan, who made the comments Sunday morning on CNN's State of the Union.

"It is true that the representatives of Israel, the United States, Egypt and Qatar met in Paris and came to an understanding among the four of them about what the basic contours of a hostage deal for temporary cease-fire would look like," Sullivan said.

"There will have to be indirect discussions by Qatar and Egypt with Hamas, because ultimately they will have to agree to release the hostages," he added.

Egyptian officials with knowledge of separate talks involving Hamas in Cairo told NPR earlier that the Palestinian militant group has agreed to a number of conditions, including withdrawing its demand for an immediate truce and its insistence that Israel pull out of Gaza. Hamas also lowered the number of Palestinian prisoners it wants Israel to let go in exchange for freeing some of the remaining Israeli hostages, the officials said.

It's been more than four months since Hamas fighters crossed into Israel and launched a large-scale attack that killed some 1,200 people. Israel says Hamas continues to hold some 130 hostages taken during the Oct. 7 assault in Gaza and at least 31 of them are dead.

Israel invaded Gaza days later in a military campaign that remains ongoing. According to the Gaza Health Ministry, more than 29,000 Palestinians have been killed in Israel's offensive.

Sullivan said he hopes all sides can come to a "firm and final agreement on this issue" sometime in the "coming days."

The Biden administration continues to focus on Russian threats

Sullivan also pressed Congress to approve additional military funding for Ukraine, aid that a growing number of Republicans say they now oppose giving to the embattled nation.

Ukraine just marked a somber two-year anniversary in the war with Russia.

The Senate recently passed a foreign aid package including $61 billion in aid to Ukraine, and Sullivan says it's now on House Speaker Mike Johnson to put the measure up for a vote in his chamber.

"This is one of those instances where one person can bend the course of history," Sullivan told ABC's This Week.

"It passed overwhelmingly on a bipartisan basis [in the Senate], and if there were an up-or-down vote, it would pass overwhelmingly in the House," Sullivan said. "So it comes down to one person: Speaker Johnson. Will he put the bill on the floor?"

Johnson was previously noncommittal about bringing the measure up for a vote in the House, but Sullivan said the speaker told him he wanted to get the funding for Ukraine and was trying to figure out a way to do it.

Sullivan was also asked Sunday whether there was any evidence that Russia was attempting to interfere in the upcoming U.S. presidential election, as it previously did in the 2016 and 2020 contests.

"I can't speak to evidence today, but I can tell you of course there are concerns," the national security adviser told NBC's Meet the Press.

"This is not about politics. This is about national security. It is about a foreign country, a foreign adversary, seeking to manipulate the politics and democracy of the United States of America," he said.

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Joe Hernandez
[Copyright 2024 NPR]