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Netanyahu recommits to Biden’s proposed hostage deal after families release grim video

Netanyahu had come under fire for saying he was ready for a partial deal but planned to press ahead with the war

(JTA) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recommitted to pursuing the release of all hostages under the terms of a deal that includes a ceasefire after families of hostages released gruesome video of three on the day of their abduction.

Netanyahu had come under fire from the Biden administration and from hostage families for telling a friendly newscaster on Sunday that he was ready for a partial deal that would release some hostages, but that he otherwise would press ahead with the war.

“I’m ready to do a partial deal, it’s no secret, that will return some of the people to us, but we are committed to continuing the war after the pause,” Netanyahu told Channel 14, a right-wing outlet that favors his views.

The Biden administration lashed out at what appeared to be Netanyahu’s retreat from a deal that would trade some of the 120 or so hostages remaining captive for Palestinians held prisoner in Israel, with an option to extend the ceasefire and free all the hostages.

“For us, that’s just a recipe for continued conflict, continued instability and continued insecurity for Israel,” Matthew Miller, the State Department spokesman, said at a briefing Monday for reporters.

The families of three hostages, Hersh Goldberg-Polin, Or Levy and Eliya Cohen, reacting to Netanyahu’s statement, posted video on Monday apparently taken by Hamas terrorists on Oct. 7 of their abductors loading them onto the bed of a pickup truck. Goldberg-Polin, an Israeli-American, is bloodied from a partially severed arm.

“Every day that passes puts the hostages at greater risk and diminishes our chances of bringing them back safely,” said a statement from the families. “After nearly nine months of fighting and despite recent achievements, it’s clear to everyone that returning all 120 hostages is only possible through a deal!”

It was not clear how they obtained the video. But in the past, families have released videos that the Israeli government had not released, as in the recent case of four women soldiers filmed by their Hamas abductors; new videos have also become available as Israeli forces capture more material during their campaign in Gaza.

On Monday, Netanyahu, speaking in the Knesset, appeared to walk back his plans for a partial deal. He also embraced President Joe Biden’s claim that it was Netanyahu who originally proposed the deal, something he has hesitated to do until now.

“We will not end the war until we return all of our hostages – 120 hostages, the living and the deceased,” he said. “We are committed to the Israeli proposal, which President Biden has welcomed. Our position has not changed.”

He reemphasized the point after the families of the three hostages released the video. “The shocking abduction video of Hersh, Or and Eliya breaks all of our hearts and re-emphasizes the brutality of the enemy whom we have sworn to eliminate,” he said. “We will not end the war until we return all 120 of our loved ones home.”

Yoav Gallant, the defense minister, is in Washington to meet top officials and made the same point just before meeting Monday with CIA director William Burns.

“I would like to emphasize that it is Israel’s primary commitment to return the hostages, with no exception, to their families and homes,” he said. “We will continue to make every possible effort to bring them home.”

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