President Joe Biden expressed optimism on Monday, stating that he believes a deal to secure the release of hostages held by Hamas in Gaza is near.
The announcement came after a ceremony where he pardoned two Thanksgiving turkeys. When asked about the progress in negotiations between Israel and Hamas, President Biden responded, ‘I believe so.
Background on Hostage Situation
Hamas captured over 200 hostages in a devastating attack on Israel on October 7. Michael Herzog, Israel’s ambassador to Washington, expressed hope on Sunday that a deal would be reached within days.
The discussions involve a proposed five-day pause in fighting, advocated by U.S. and Qatari officials, aiming to release at least 50 women and children initially, with more releases to follow.
Casualties and Ongoing Conflict
The October 7 attack by Hamas resulted in significant casualties, marking the bloodiest day in Israel’s 75-year history, with at least 1,200 individuals killed. Israel has since maintained a relentless bombardment of Gaza, with the Hamas-controlled health ministry reporting over 13,000 Palestinians killed, including at least 5,500 children.
Additional Updates from Biden
President Biden, celebrating the unofficial start of the holiday season and marking his 81st birthday, shared updates after the turkey-pardoning ceremony.
Reflecting on the milestone, he humorously remarked, ‘It’s tough to turn 60.’ The Bidens are set to celebrate Thanksgiving with family on Nantucket, their traditional November vacation spot.
Thanksgiving Traditions and Symbolic Gesture
The turkey-pardoning tradition dates back to 1947, initiated by the National Turkey Federation. The two pardoned turkeys will reside at the University of Minnesota’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Natural Resources Sciences.
Later in the day, First Lady Jill Biden is expected to receive the White House Christmas tree, an 18-and-a-half-foot Fraser fir from Fleetwood, North Carolina.
Amid these festivities, President Biden heads into the 2024 election year, currently trailing likely Republican nominee Donald Trump in polls. A recent hypothetical poll found Trump with a one-point lead over Biden among 1,000 voters.
Biden’s Approval Ratings and Election Concerns
Biden’s Gallup approval rating stands at 37 percent one year out from the 2024 election, lower than his six immediate predecessors at the same stage.
Concerns about age-related gaffes and slips have been raised, but Biden faces the challenges of a competitive political landscape as he navigates his presidency towards the upcoming election.