Israel opposition leader, in Washington, calls hostage deal hard but 'doable'

Israel opposition leader, in Washington, calls hostage deal hard but 'doable'


Israel opposition leader, in Washington, calls hostage deal hard but 'doable'

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A deal to release hostages held in Gaza is difficult but "doable", Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid said on Monday after he and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken discussed the need for Israel and Hamas to resolve their conflict.

"It is a difficult deal. This is a deal we might not like, but it's doable, and therefore needs to be made," Lapid said. Talks have been held in Egypt on a deal for freeing hostages and calling a temporary ceasefire.

Lapid, who will also meet White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan, is visiting Washington as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faces pressure at home and aboard over the war in Gaza. Some families of hostages have demanded his government do more to bring home hostages captured by Hamas in its deadly Oct 7 attack that triggered the Israeli offensive.

"There are enough good people in the Israeli government," Lapid told reporters outside the State Department. If need be, he added, "the Israeli opposition will give a security net to the government in order to do the hostage deal because we need to bring them back home."

Fellow opposition politician Benny Gantz, who unlike Lapid is part of Netanyahu's war cabinet, last week called for national elections to take place in September. Lapid, asked about the call, declined to speak about Israeli politics while in the US.

Lapid's visit comes days after President Joe Biden urged Netanyahu to empower his negotiators to conclude a deal.

Biden also warned Netanyahu for the first time that US support could be conditioned on Israel doing more to improve the humanitarian situation in Gaza and protecting civilians.

Asked about the ultimatum, Lapid said Biden "is obviously worried about the humanitarian situation in Gaza."

He added: "Israel is worried as well" and must "do our best in order to avoid hurting the people of Gaza. 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."