US Ambassador to Israel Jacob Lew today (Thursday) addressed the annual Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) conference, which was held in the wake of the Hamas massacre of October 7.

The ambassador expressed optimism on the negotiations on a possible hostage and ceasefire deal that the Biden Administration has been pushing for. "I think if you look at the hostage negotiations, I think it's a mistake to think they're over. There are still conversations going on, there's still back and forth, the differences are being narrowed."

"It's not yet an agreement," he admitted. "Everyone's looking toward Ramadan, which is coming close. I can't tell you that it will be successful, but it's not yet the case that it's broken down."

"These people's lives matter, and if that was it, we should do everything he can to get them home," he said, referring to the Israeli hostages held by Hamas. "But it's also a hugely important strategic issue."

According to Lew, "It's going to be hard for the healing in this country to begin as long as the hostage crisis is still ongoing. If you look around at the geopolitical issues, all of which are bubbling at the same time, the combination of an agreement on the release of hostages and a temporary ceasefire, and a period where humanitarian relief can flood into Gaza opens the door to things starting to settle into place on a host of important issues."

He stated that "a pause would increase the likelihood of a diplomatic solution in the north, A pause would increase the likelihood of the Saudi normalization going forward. There's a huge need to be thinking about what comes next, which is very hard to do while there's the level of kinetic activity that's still going on."

Lew said that the Biden Administration wants a "revitalized" Palestinian Authority to take control of Gaza after the war because "there's going to have to be a workforce to restore civil order in Gaza when the war is over. Somebodies going to have to turn on the lights."

"The workforce is going to have to come from the people who are from the area, many of whom have worked for the Palestinian Authority," he said, adding that Hamas would not be in charge.