update deskU.S.-Israel Relations

In DC, Lapid discusses hostage deal with Blinken, meets with senators

The Yesh Atid Party leader told reporters outside the U.S. State Department that in his opinion, an exchange with Hamas terrorists is difficult but "doable."

Yesh Atid Party leader Yair Lapid leads a faction meeting at the Knesset in Jerusalem, April 1, 2024. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.
Yesh Atid Party leader Yair Lapid leads a faction meeting at the Knesset in Jerusalem, April 1, 2024. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid discussed efforts to free the 133 remaining hostages being held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip during a meeting in Washington on Monday.

“I told the secretary of state that the citizens of Israel are united around the call for the return of the captives,” tweeted Lapid after the meeting.

“Together with the international community, we can’t rest until we see everyone coming home,” added the Yesh Atid Party leader.

The U.S. State Department has not yet provided a readout of the Blinken-Lapid meeting, which was closed to the press.

Lapid told reporters outside the State Department that, in his opinion, a hostage deal with Hamas terrorists is difficult but “doable,” per Reuters.

“This is a deal we might not like, but it’s doable and therefore needs to be made,” he said, speaking after renewed high-level negotiations for a hostages-for-ceasefire agreement with Hamas ended in Cairo.

In late March, Hamas informed mediators that it was sticking to its demands for “a comprehensive ceasefire, [an IDF] withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, the return of the displaced and a real exchange of prisoners.” Israel has repeatedly dismissed the group’s conditions as “delusional.”

Shortly after Lapid’s remarks, Ali Baraka, who runs Hamas’s “national relations” abroad, announced that the terror group rejects the latest Israeli ceasefire proposal suggested in Cairo, Reuters reported.

‘Israel is worried as well’

Lapid departed for Washington over the weekend for talks with senior U.S. officials. The opposition leader is also scheduled to meet with National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan; Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.); and Sens. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).

The visit comes just days after U.S. President Joe Biden gave Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is coming down hard on Israel’s need to improve the “unacceptable” humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip.

The White House expects Israel to announce “changes” within “hours and days,” John Kirby, White House national security communications adviser, told reporters following a tense phone call between Biden and Netanyahu on Thursday.

Lapid said Monday that the U.S. president “is obviously worried about the humanitarian situation in Gaza.” (Others have accused the Biden administration of playing politics as the November presidential election draws normal.)

“Israel is worried as well,” he added, stressing that Jerusalem must do its best to avoid hurting civilians. “We have no war with the children of Gaza … on the other hand, you have to remember we are fighting a terrorist organization that’s using them as human shields,” he said.

Lapid also discussed options on Monday for a “solution” in the Gaza Strip, he told reporters. Lapid has expressed objections to giving the Palestinian Authority control over the area after the war ends, seemingly putting him at odds with the Biden administration, which has publicly taken the position that the P.A. is the best alternative to Hamas.

You have read 3 articles this month.
Register to receive full access to JNS.

Just before you scroll on...

Israel is at war.

JNS is combating the stream of misinformation on Israel with real, honest and factual reporting. In order to deliver this in-depth, unbiased coverage of Israel and the Jewish world, we rely on readers like you.

The support you provide allows our journalists to deliver the truth, free from bias and hidden agendas. Can we count on your support?

Every contribution, big or small, helps JNS.org remain a trusted source of news you can rely on.

Become a part of our mission by donating today
Thank you. You are a loyal JNS Reader.
You have read more than 10 articles this month.
Please register for full access to continue reading and post comments.
Never miss a thing
Get the best stories faster with JNS breaking news updates