update deskU.S. News

‘No choice but to stay hopeful,’ father of US hostage says after meeting with vice president

Family members of U.S. hostages whom Hamas kidnapped to Gaza met this week with Kamala Harris and with Jake Sullivan.

Rachel Goldberg-Polin, mother of the American-Israeli hostage Hersh Golderg-Polin, in Geneva, calling for release of the hostages, as the United Nations celebrates the 75th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration for Human Rights. Credit: Nathan Chicheportiche/Permanent Mission of Israel in Geneva.
Rachel Goldberg-Polin, mother of the American-Israeli hostage Hersh Golderg-Polin, in Geneva, calling for release of the hostages, as the United Nations celebrates the 75th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration for Human Rights. Credit: Nathan Chicheportiche/Permanent Mission of Israel in Geneva.

Family members of U.S. citizens Hamas terrorists kidnapped and took to Gaza on Oct. 7 held a “very productive meeting” at the White House on Tuesday with Vice President Kamala Harris, Rachel Goldberg-Polin said, according to the pool report.

“We are thinking of all 133 souls who are being held” in Gaza, added Goldberg-Polin, whose son is the American Israeli hostage Hersh Goldberg-Polin. (Hersh’s father, Jonathan Polin, also attended the meeting.)

“We want results,” Goldberg-Polin said.

Jonathan Dekel-Chen, father of American Israeli hostage Sagui Dekel-Chen, put the onus on Hamas, which has repeatedly rejected deals that Israel has offered in Cairo.

“We are waiting now and the world waits for Hamas to get to yes,” Dekel-Chen said, per the pool report. “It is in their court.”

“We have no choice but to stay hopeful,” added Jonathan Polin.

Per the White House, the other relatives of hostages who met with the vice president were Adi and Yael Alexander, parents of Edan Alexander; Ruby and Roy Chen, father and brother of Itay Chen; Liz Naftali, great-aunt of released hostage Abigail Mor Edan; Ronen and Orna Neutra, parents of Omer Neutra; Aviva Siegel, released hostage and wife of hostage Keith Siegel; Elan Tiv, daughter of hostage Keith Siegel and released hostage Avivia Siegel; and Andrea Weinstein, sister of hostage Judy Weinstein and sister-in-law of hostage Gad Haggai.

The meeting was closed to the press. Family members of hostages met on Monday with Jake Sullivan, the U.S. national security advisor.

The U.S. vice president “underscored” that she and U.S. President Joe Biden “have no higher priority than reuniting the hostages with their loved ones,” per a White House readout of the meeting.

“She also reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to bring home the remains of those who have been tragically confirmed to be deceased,” the readout stated. She also “again condemned Hamas as a brutal terrorist organization and its horrific use of sexual violence, reaffirmed that the threat Hamas poses to Israel must be eliminated and denounced the rise of antisemitism worldwide.”

“The vice president expressed her continued support for these families and they discussed the agony and pain felt over the past six months” and “told them that they and their loved ones remain at the forefront of her mind and in her prayers as the Biden-Harris administration works to secure the release of all the hostages,” per the readout.

“The vice president provided an update on U.S. efforts to secure the release of all hostages and an immediate ceasefire in Gaza,” she added.

“We are feeling extreme desperation, despair, and we’ve had wonderful access and sympathy, and open doors and lots of hugs from everyone in the U.S. government. But this is a very binary situation,” Rachel Goldberg-Polin told CBS News on Sunday. “We want our people back, period.”

“Six months is actually a complete failure on everybody’s part,” she added. “I actually include myself in that as a parent, that I have not been able to save my son.”

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