Biden and Netanyahu
Biden and NetanyahuAvi Ohayon/GPO

US President Joe Biden told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, during their conversation on Thursday, that he was committed to secure the release of the hostages being held by Hamas in Gaza, the White House said.

In a readout following the conversation, the White House said, “The President and the Prime Minister discussed ongoing hostage negotiations. The President reaffirmed his commitment to working tirelessly to support the release of all hostages as soon as possible, recognizing their appalling situation after 132 days in Hamas captivity.”

“The President and the Prime Minister also discussed the situation in Gaza, and the urgency of ensuring that humanitarian assistance is able to get to Palestinian civilians in desperate need,” the statement said.

“The President also raised the situation in Rafah, and reiterated his view that a military operation should not proceed without a credible and executable plan for ensuring the safety of and support for the civilians in Rafah,” it concluded.

Netanyahu’s office said in a statement earlier on Thursday that Netanyahu’s conversation with Biden lasted about 40 minutes.

The conversation dealt with the negotiations towards a hostage release deal, the continuation of the fighting in Gaza and a possible Israeli operation in Rafah, and the US demand that humanitarian aid be allowed to enter the Gaza Strip.

Biden and Netanyahu previously spoke for about 45 minutes on Sunday. A senior administration official later told CNN that the two leaders discussed a deal to secure the release of hostages in Gaza at length.

The officials cautioned that while a framework is in place, gaps remain.

Israel earlier this week sent a high-ranking delegation to talks in Cairo on a hostage release deal. A US official later said that that the talks were productive and serious, but did not yet arrive at a breakthrough that would result in a final deal.

On Wednesday, Netanyahu decided not to send back the Israeli delegation to Cairo.

Netanyahu said, "This week we freed two of our hostages in a careful military operation. So far we have freed 112 of our hostages with a combination of strong military pressure and firm negotiations. This is also the key to the release of the rest of our hostages: strong military pressure and very firm negotiations."

"I insist that Hamas drop their delusional demands - and when they drop these demands we can move forward," he added.