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Hamas Accepts Ceasefire Proposal; Interview With Kidnapped On October 7 Mother Of Romi Meirav Leshem Gonen; Interview With International Communities Organization Middle East Director And "The Negotiator: Freeing Gilad Schalit From Hamas" Author Gershon Baskin; Interview With Former U.S. State Department Middle Easter Negotiator Aaron David Miller; U.S. State Department Reviews Hamas Response To Proposal. Aired 1-2p ET

Aired May 06, 2024 - 13:00   ET



BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Hello everyone, and welcome to "Amanpour." Here's what's coming up.

Evacuate immediately. Israel signals that it will invade Rafah imminently, defying the U.S. president. Fear for over a million people sheltering

there. And concerns for press freedom as Israel takes Al Jazeera off air. We'll have the very latest.

Plus --


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We need to bring all the hostages back.


GOLODRYGA: -- a painful Holocaust Remembrance Day for Israelis, especially the families of hostages in Gaza. I'm joined by Meirav Leshem Gonen with

her plea to the government to bring her daughter Romi home.

Then --


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The European Union and China are going to be good relations.


GOLODRYGA: -- Xi Jinping in Europe. As the Chinese premier meets France's Macron, what does this visit signal?

And Ukraine on defense as Russia continues to make gains in the east, we'll get the latest with General Ben Hodges.

Hello, everyone, and welcome to "Amanpour." I'm Bianna Golodryga in New York, sitting in for Christiane Amanpour, who will be back next week.

Well, big news just into CNN, Hamas says that it has agreed to a ceasefire proposal from Egypt and Qatar. No word yet from the Israeli side. This just

after Israel started warning Palestinians in Eastern Rafah to evacuate immediately. The clearest sign yet that an offensive may be soon.

Correspondent Jeremy Diamond joins us now live from Jerusalem with the latest. Jeremy, it is a bit like a whiplash here. We were just talking a

few minutes ago about how imminent that operation into Rafah would be. It appeared that hostage and ceasefire deals were all but broken. And now,

this news from the head of Hamas' political bureau that they have accepted the proposal from Qatar and Egypt. What more are you learning?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, a lot of promise in the air, but also a lot of uncertainty, Bianna, and that's because this Hamas statement

has -- they are the only ones that we have actually heard from at this stage about them accepting this latest ceasefire proposal. We haven't heard

from the Egyptians, the Qataris, the Americans, or the Israelis for that matter.

And so, all we are relying on at this point. point is one statement from Hamas, just posted to their Telegram channel, saying that Ismail Haniyeh,

the head of Hamas' political bureau, made a phone call to the Qatari prime minister as well as the Egyptian intelligence chief and "inform them of

Hamas' agreement to their proposal regarding a ceasefire agreement."

This obviously offers a lot of promise for the millions of Palestinian civilians in Gaza who have been awaiting a reprieve to this seven-month war

and also, of course, for the families of Israeli hostages who are hoping and praying that they will get to see their loved ones and hold their loved

ones in their arms once again. But you have to temper that hope and that optimism with the fact that we haven't yet heard from the other parties


There's also some uncertainty about exactly what Hamas has agreed to. We know that there was an Egyptian framework on the table that would see some

20 to 33 Israeli hostages released in exchange for several weeks of a ceasefire and hundreds of Palestinian civilians. We know that Israel had

made several concessions in this latest framework, including allowing the unrestricted return of Palestinians to Northern Gaza, and that after that,

there would be some kind of a longer-term, perhaps a one-year ceasefire between the two parties.

But we don't know whether or not Hamas is agreeing to this simply because Israel has made these real moves to evacuate portions of Rafah, setting the

stage for a ground offensive. We don't know whether they've made any changes to that latest framework proposal or what exactly they have agreed

to at this stage. And so, we have yet to hear an official response from the Israeli government. That, of course, will be key to seeing whether or not

this framework agreement is real.


And also, important to note, if they have agreed to something here, it is a framework. It will take several more days, at least, in order to negotiate

the final deal to be implemented.

GOLODRYGA: Now, to your initial point about why this may have come about, this agreement, again, we only have, as you are right to point out, one

leader, one spokesperson for Hamas who has made this declaration that they've agreed to a ceasefire proposal. But to your one point as to why

perhaps now one could view this as a victory for some on the far-right in the Netanyahu government who say, you see the pressure of going into Rafah

is what had them change their mind.

That having been said, Jeremy, we have been in a place before where there had been a disagreement within Hamas itself and its leadership on where

things stand and what they will and will not agree to. And a lot still rides on where Yahya Sinwar. is on this. Obviously, he's the Hamas leader

who is believed to currently still be in Gaza in Rafah. Talk about that component because we've been here before.

DIAMOND: No doubt about it. I mean, there are a million questions that I have floating in my head right now in order to really nail this down. And

you're right, there is very difficult -- it's very difficult for Hamas' leadership outside of Gaza to contact Yahya Sinwar, Hamas' leader, inside

of Gaza. And often, it actually takes days for those messages to go back and forth. And that's why sometimes these negotiations, each step can take

quite a significant amount of time.

So, it's not impossible, but it is difficult to imagine that Yahya Sinwar would have delivered a message within hours after the Israeli military

began to evacuate parts of Rafah, signaling that it was preparing for a major ground offensive there. So, whether or not that actually played a

factor here is difficult to say at this point.

But certainly, the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has always insisted, always believed that it was military pressure that would lead

Hamas to -- back to the negotiating table, back to making an agreement. And the Israeli military also believes that that military pressure led to that

last ceasefire that we saw at the end of November.

So, again, we will have to report it out over the coming hours and days exactly what led to this change of heart from Hamas, apparent change of

heart, or perhaps whether other changes have been made here that will therefore make the Israeli government refuse this latest proposal. So,

again, just urging a lot of caution, even as we report what is a really significant statement in a really critical moment in time from Hamas.

GOLODRYGA: Yes, this is rapidly developing for us. And as you note, we have yet to hear from the Israeli government or from the U.S. side as well. We

do know that just within the last few hours, Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Biden did speak. President Biden in a statement released by the

White House once again, reiterating "they made their position known" on what an incursion in Rafah would look like and their concerns about that.

And yet, here we are just hours later with reports of Hamas agreeing to the ceasefire proposal. We will stay on top of the story and of course anything

else that develops within our hour, we will bring that to you. Jeremy Diamond, thank you so much for joining us.

Well, coming up after the break, with an agreement on a ceasefire deal still in the works, the fate of more than 100 Israeli hostages remains on

the line. I'll be joined by Meirav Leshem Gonen, whose daughter, RomIs still held captive by Hamas.



ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.

GOLODRYGA: Welcome back to our viewers. We just want to update you on the news just in to CNN. Moments ago, Hamas agreeing to a ceasefire proposal

from Egypt and Qatar. This coming from Ismail Haniyeh, who is the head of Hamas' political bureau. No response yet from U.S. officials. And there are

reports that we're seeing that Israel is responding. We will bring you those reports and their response to this news as soon as we have it here at


But of course, we want to mark a very poignant and important day today. Today is the observation of Holocaust Remembrance Day in Israel, a national

memorial for the 6 million dead. As the country pauses for a moment of reflection called together with the sound of an emergency siren. They do

this every year.

At the Auschwitz site, more than 6,000 people, including 55 Holocaust survivors, took part in a March of the Living to commemorate the day.

Israel is still haunted by the deadly attack on October 7th, and now proceeding news that a ceasefire deal could be back on the table as Hamas

announces it agrees to some of those terms. It's not clear at this moment if Israel is also on board.

23-year-old Romi Gonen is one of the hostages whose fate could be impacted. Her mother, Meirav, is campaigning nonstop for her return, and Meirav

Leshem Gonen joins us again. Welcome back to the program, Meirav.

You know, I watched your previous interview, I believe it was November 1st with Christiane. And like you, it is just so heartbreaking to see that not

much has changed that that your daughter Romi is still being held hostage. 23-year-old innocent Israeli who went for a fun night out, as everyone is

entitled to around the world, at a concert only to have succumbed to an injury and obviously a life in pure hell as we can imagine as a hostage

right now.

Tell us how you're doing and specifically knowing, as we've been reporting on this breaking news, that a deal may or may not be possible, what is that

like for you psychologically to keep going back and forth on this?

MEIRAV LESHEM GONEN, MOTHER OF ROMI, KIDNAPPED ON OCTOBER 7: First, thank you for interviewing me again. It's so important to give the message --

this message of, you know, the hostages cannot talk, and this is our obligation of the free world to speak for them. And yes, this is not just a

nightmare, this is also like, you know, up and down. Even a cruel ride because the Hamas is playing with us, with our feelings, with our hopes.

Hamas knows how important for us the life of our people. Also, we are wishing to bring back the dead ones, the one that were murdered, like in

the Holocaust. You mentioned the Holocaust. 6 million people were murdered in the Holocaust. And now, we have an opportunity to bring back the one

that are still alive as hostages and also the one that were murdered.

This is like, you know, living the 7th of October each day again. Remembering the phone call that I had with Romi, knowing she's injured, she

was shot in her arm, knowing that she's alone there. She's, you know, held by Hamas, which are pure evil for us, for all of us, the free world. It's


This is a small word, but this is challenging each day. And especially today, when we thought maybe this is not happening. And now, there is a new

opening door for a possibility of an agreement. So, we are aiming there. We want the agreement to be -- so we will be -- you know, I'm pretty much

excited because of the news because it took -- you know, it took us just a minute ago, just before the broadcasting and I wasn't prepared for that.


And I need a little air for that. But this is an option. This is a good option, which we have to make sure will happen.

GOLODRYGA: Meirav, I'm sure you have been told time and time again just how incredible your strength is to constantly come out publicly when you

clearly are so much in pain and the unimaginable happening to your family, one of your five children taken hostage and kidnapped and yet, you're out

there day in and day out fighting for her release and the release of others.

I'm wondering if you have had any news in terms of proof life, any indication about how Romi is doing? And I ask this because there had been

reports, either from Israeli intelligence or from those sickening psychological warfare videos that have been released by Hamas even as

recently as the last two weeks, showing that three hostages they released videos of are still alive.

GONEN: The last proof life was from the people that returned from Hamas since, it was day 55. Today, we're in day -- it's unimaginable, 213. So,

you can calculate how many days I didn't get any information about my daughter. But I know she's alive, you know, sometimes we're saying no news,

it's good news. I know she's alive. I'm sure. I feel it. I know she's alive. I know.

Maybe she even, you know, watches this CNN or maybe the Hamas is watching, but I know she's alive. And the movies are usually kind of a terror for us.

It's kind of a psychological terror. And I ask everyone that watches these videos, stay strong because that's what the hostages need from us. Those

people that are still alive, the one that are already murdered, they need us to be very strong, even when we see this kind of videos.

Yes, it's a proof life. This is what we need to take from that. They are alive and the Hamas is the one responsible for their lives. And I want to

make sure that we all remember that and make sure that we're pushing all parties to bring them back home as soon as possible.

GOLODRYGA: You can't underestimate a mother's intuition when you say that you know, you feel, as her mother, that she is still alive. And I have to

tell you, from the hostage families that I've interviewed, and even those hostages that have since been released, they have told me that at times

they did have access to the news. They did see some media and they were aware from time to time of where things were in the negotiations and where

things were in the war. So, you are so right to point out and continue to send and deliver messages to Romi and the other hostages that are there in


Let me ask you, Meirav, this news that, again, we keep getting in by the minute about a possible deal and a ceasefire deal of falling apart. Now, it

looks like it's back on the table. And all of this, hovering over it, is a possible incursion into Rafah that appears to be more and more imminent.

That is where Israel believes that many battalions, the last remaining battalions of Hamas fighters remain and it's also where they believe that

many of the hostages are currently being held. Talk to us about how you're feeling ahead of what this anticipated operation may look like.

GONEN: First, I wish we had -- we knew what is exactly the right thing to do. I wish we -- I think we all wish to know exactly what are the right

steps to do, what are the right things to say or to -- what measures we need to do now so the agreement will take place and we will be able to take

them out. I think we all wish for one direction, but there isn't any one direction. This is a kind of trial and error.

And we know the Middle East, and I guess already the whole word knows how sometimes things work and sometimes pressure is the thing to do. And I hope

-- I don't know, maybe this is what brought this announcement from the Hamas, the possibility of going into Rafah. I don't know.

I'm a mother. This is something the experts needs to sort out and make sure they know why are they taking any step if this is a kind of going into

Rafah or not going into Rafah. This is the responsibility of the people that -- the strategic people that knows more into the details.


We don't know exactly the details. I don't know if to say unfortunately or maybe fortunately we don't have this information and we need to trust the

people that are sitting in negotiation. We need to trust that our leaders, the free world leaders will do the right thing to make sure they will come


And you know, the hostages are from more than 20 different nationalities. This is not just Israeli hostages. This is also citizens of United States

and other countries. This is something the world has to push and press and make sure there will be no stopping of the war without bringing all the

hostages back. It has to come together. Ceasefire is OK, but it needs to come together with the hostages coming back home.

GOLODRYGA: Multiple nationalities, Jewish and Muslim as well. And, Meirav, you say that this is up to the experts, but obviously, pressure from family

members like you and all of the others that so bravely are continuing to publicly force the government and force officials to make sure they do all

they can to see that your loved ones are brought home alive, that plays a big role in all of this as well.

So, I hope you're aware of that. And we look forward to the day when you are reunited with Romi. Meirav Leshem Gonen, thank you so much for joining


GONEN: Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you for this interview.

GOLODRYGA: Thank you. Well, let's go back to Jeremy Diamond, who is live for us in Jerusalem with the latest. Jeremy, it is so difficult to even

speak with a family member of the hostage because you don't know what to tell them in terms of the developing news and the breaking news, where

things stand, where a deal is you know, going into this interview.

It appeared that we were not looking at a deal being likely. Now, this news from a Hamas, at least one Hamas official. What's the latest?

DIAMOND: Yes, that's right. And as you know very well, I mean, these moments where a deal is on the precipice and then it goes away and then it

comes back, I mean, those moments are the most agonizing moments for the families of those hostages who still remain in Gaza. So, my heart goes out

to her in these difficult moments.

What we know at this point is what the Hamas statement says, which is that they have agreed to the ceasefire proposal on the table by the Egyptians.

We don't know whether it is the same proposal that Israel had a significant input into crafting with the Egyptians, which was submitted to the

Egyptians up last week, we don't know whether any changes have been made to that proposal since it was put on the table and what has actually changed

since yesterday and over the weekend as this Hamas delegation was in Cairo.

You know, they were holding meetings and they ultimately left without an agreement because they were continuing to insist -- according to two of my

Israeli sources, they were continuing to insist on an Israeli commitment to end the war as part of this ceasefire agreement, something that the Israeli

government has been unwilling to agree to so far.

So, a lot of questions, a lot of uncertainty. I've been on the phone trying to reach Israeli officials. So, far sources don't have a ton of information

about exactly what Hamas has agreed to, and we are still waiting for an official response from the Israeli government. So, we're going to let that

play out for a bit and see where things land.

But certainly, there has been a scramble inside the Israeli government to make sense of this Hamas response since it came out in just the last hour.

GOLODRYGA: Yes, Jeremy, I'll let you get back to your reporting and reaching out to your sources. Please do come back to us when you get any

developing news on this front. Thank you.

In the meantime, let's get more from Washington with Senior White House Correspondent MJ Lee. MJ, this news coming just hours after President Biden

spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. It seemed like the crux of this conversation was being based on an impending incursion into Rafah.

Now, news, at least from one Hamas officials that they've agreed to a deal. Which deal? Is it the deal that Israel initially signed off on that the

United States called incredibly generous? We don't yet know. What, if anything, is coming out from the White House at this point?

MJ LEE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Right now, we're also here in Washington in the same position of waiting for official word and

reaction from U.S. officials and the White House to this news that Hamas has apparently agreed to this temporary ceasefire agreement. But, you know,

I think Jeremy has done such an excellent job over there of really leaning into words of caution, basically, warnings to make sure that we are keeping

in context how many of these kinds of moments we have had in the past months of negotiations to try to get to some kind of a deal where we have

reached moments where we seem to be on the brink of a deal and then, very quickly, that sort of hope and optimism would fall apart.


And now, in fact, in the last several days, we actually didn't get much sense of optimism as these negotiations continued in Doha. CIA Director

Bill Burns has been there and he actually decided to stay longer than was initially anticipated. So, we're really trying to read the tea leaves here,

and again, waiting for official reaction from the Biden administration.

But as you said, Bianna, this comes just moments after President Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke on the phone, and of

course, one of the topics that they discussed were these negotiations, as all of their phone calls have included as one of the topics in recent

months, in addition to other topics, of course, like humanitarian aid.

But I don't have to tell you, you know, you know very well how much U.S. officials in the past several months have been pushing and trying to help

get the parties to some sort of agreement to see the release of hostages and see at least a temporary pause in the fighting. You know, for President

Biden, this has been, of course, a top priority for him. And it so far has been incredibly elusive.

You know, everywhere we turn here in the States, we feel like we can see signs of the discontent, the anger, the dissatisfaction that people are

voicing to President Biden and this White House about his policy and his support of Israel. And that, of course, is one of the many reasons why this

White House, again, has been pushing so hard for the parties to get to such a deal.

But again, we'll just have to wait and see what the U.S.'s official reaction is to this news that Hamas has apparently agreed to this temporary

ceasefire agreement. Bianna.

GOLODRYGA: Yes. And thus far, we're about 20, 25 minutes into this news, and it appears that the only source we're getting about it is coming from

Hamas spokespeople themselves. So, you will continue to be pressing your contacts there at the White House, and any indication you get on a

statement from them, please do break in and let us know. MJ Lee, thank you.

Gershon Baskin is the Middle East Director of the International Communities Organization. He is also a former hostage negotiator and he joins me now

from Jerusalem. Gershon, you of all people should know that we take everything, every headline like this with a grain of salt. No one is

holding their breath quite yet. I'm just wondering what you make of this news and the fact that it appears to be coming specifically and only at

this point from Ismail Haniyeh, who is the political leader of Hamas. No official response from the U.S., no official response from the Israelis



news, and there hasn't been time to get those official responses from the Israelis or from the Americans. And I would remind everyone it's not done

until it's done.

This very iffy. The -- we don't know the details of what it is that Hamas has agreed to. We think we know what the framework agreement was that the

Egyptians presented to the Israelis and to the Hamas leadership. The fact that the announcement came from Ismail Haniyeh, as the head of Hamas, is

significant. And it seems to indicate that the exiled leadership in Qatar was able to impose its will on the leadership inside of Gaza on Yahya

Sinwar, but that's also not 100 percent known.

I would not -- I could not believe that Haniyeh would make such an announcement like that without having the agreement of the Gaza leadership

as well. So, I think we can believe that Hamas is genuine. And I think they did the right thing. The ball is now in the court of Israel, and Netanyahu

is going to have to bring this deal to his cabinet and get it approved, even though he had temporary approval from the cabinet beforehand. Now, his

day of reckoning with his hardliners and his own cabinet are going to come who have threatened to leave the government and bring it down if the

agreement doesn't meet their demands.

GOLODRYGA: So, we don't now -- yet know what this exact agreement is. Is it the same one that was on the table as of just 48 hours ago? One that

Anthony Blinken himself described as incredibly generous deal that Israel had agreed to as we're awaiting a response from Israel and the United

States. Is it standard to see someone like Ismail Haniyeh break this news to the media as opposed to hearing it from Egyptian or Qatari officials


BASKIN: Well, generally what happens when the Hamas makes a decision is that one of their leaders, mostly Osama Hamdan, who's based in Beirut,

holds a press conference and makes an announcement. And in -- over the last seven months, every one of his press conferences and announcements have

been the official Hamas position.


So, it is rather unusual that Haniyeh made this speech and made the agreement on Al Jazeera, but it is significant. We believe that William

Burns, the head of the CIA, is still in Doha, which is maybe why Haniyeh made the announcement from Doha. But again, we still have to see the

developments after this, and whether or not the Israelis agree to it, and whether or not there is, in fact, a deal that will be moved forward.

We hope it will, because it will prevent the Israeli incursion into Rafah. It will begin to have a ceasefire, which will save human lives. Hostages

will begin to be released. Palestinian prisoners will also be released. That's part of the deal. And the Egyptians are hoping that they can turn

this temporary ceasefire into a permanent one.

GOLODRYGA: And, Gershon, I should just note, given that you still have contacts and sources on all -- in all parties, please do let us know if you

get an alert or if you need to go or if there's any news you want to break with us as well while we have you --

BASKIN: Notably (ph).

GOLODRYGA: You mentioned Netanyahu and the impact this would have on an incursion into Rafah. I guess one could look at it from two perspectives.

One is that he and his right-wing coalition could say, look, once again this proves that more military pressure puts more pressure on Hamas to

reach a deal, but then you could also say that they're now stuck in a position where if Hamas is either buying time or serious about a deal that

this puts off potentially an incursion into Rafah.

BASKIN: It will put it off. And Netanyahu and his allies will claim that it was the military pressure that brought about a deal. But at the end of the

day, we still face the problem that because of Netanyahu's refusal to have a political end game to this war when the war ends and Israel withdraws

from Gaza, Hamas is still going to be in place.

And this the great failing of the Israeli government and a disaster for the region, in fact, because there needs to be a Palestinian credible,

legitimate body that takes control of Gaza, eventually unites with the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, and eventually, somewhere down the

road, leads to new Palestinian elections. And of course, the rebuilding of Gaza.

This all needs to happen, but Netanyahu refuses to deal with the political options of the endgame here because he seemingly, as most people say, wants

to prolong the war in order to prolong his own time in government.

GOLODRYGA: Yes, and you mentioned this point in the lack of a day after plan, whether intentionally or unintentionally on the table. I do want to

ask you, though, there had been report in the "Financial Times" today about Arab nations warming to a peacekeeping force in Gaza post-war. And I do

want to quote from an Arab diplomat who said, "Reservations in some capitals have softened in recent weeks and raised the possibility of Arab

involvement. We know that Israel has security concerns about a Palestinian State. So, this saying that we are ready to help."

What do you make of this news? And is this something that Netanyahu and his government would be ready to accept?

BASKIN: Well, I know of Palestinians who are not part of the Palestinian Authority, who are supporters of the two-state solution who have been

holding talks in the last months, even talks with members of Hamas on how to create an acceptable, legitimate Palestinian leadership in Gaza that

would take control and would support a peace deal with Israel, and they would have the authority to invite a multinational Arab-led force to Gaza.

They have been talking to Arab leaders, from Jordan and Egypt and the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia and perhaps others who have all said

that if there is a Palestinian invitation to these countries to send peacekeeping troops to Gaza that they would likely to agree.

And this what's necessary also to have a legitimate alternative Palestinian leadership in Gaza in order to raise money from the International Community

in order to rebuild Gaza after the horrendous damage that's been done as a result of this war.

Israel under Netanyahu will oppose this, which is why we in Israel need to get to new elections as soon as possible. The majority of Israelis want to

go to elections. The majority of Israelis still say it should be only after the war is over. But Netanyahu has apparently no intention of ending the

war anytime in the near future.

GOLODRYGA: Gershon Baskin, you're a veteran to all hostage and peace negotiations. Earlier, just a few minutes ago, I had spoken with the mother

of a hostage, and it is so difficult to bring, once again, breaking news to someone in real-time who's having real-life reactions and knowing that her

daughter and her life are at stake right now, depending on whichever way this deal goes. Gershon Baskin, thank you so much.


BASKIN: Thank you.

GOLODRYGA: Well, CNN's International Diplomatic Editor Nic Robertson joins us now from London. Nic, I want to bring breaking news for our viewers from

reporting that our own Becky Anderson has just given us in terms of this Hamas deal that they've agreed to and I'm going to read from her wire right

now, a diplomatic source familiar with the talks said -- told CNN that after a daylong meeting in Doha between the director of the CIA and the

Qatari prime minister, mediators convinced Hamas to accept the three-part deal, "the ball is now firmly in Benjamin Netanyahu's court."

Again, this a fast-moving development and storyline for us, Nic. We were talking about an imminent incursion into Rafah and now it appears once

again that ceasefire negotiations are alive. What more can you tell us?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, I've been trying to speak to sources in the region as well, regional sources who have been

quite well informed, perhaps not exactly by the second, but almost by the minute of the process here. And what they described to me is a situation

where it may be, it may be that Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas has agreed to the terms of an agreement, the one that the Hamas says is the Qatar-Egypt

proposition that isn't actually, at the moment, completely to Israel's liking.

Now, from my understanding of the situation, we could be at a moment where something could be added on, an amendment, let's say, perhaps, to the

agreement, and that could help push things along and get it to where Israel needs it to be. My understanding over the weekend had been that there were

certain guarantees that were being sought from Qatar in the process to try to make this agreement work.

So, it seemed as not a huge surprise that CIA Director Bill Burns went to Qatar. And we know obviously that the Hamas delegation went there to

convene amongst themselves, they said over the weekend. So, the latest reporting that we have from Becky Anderson certainly seems to comport with

details that I've been receiving and other colleagues have been receiving that there has been this pressure on Hamas.

And as you were mentioning that what appeared this morning as if it was an eminent ground offensive on Hamas could have also been perceived by

seasoned negotiators as a pressure tactic on Hamas with Prime Minister Netanyahu, the IDF have said all along, the only way to really free the

hostages is to apply military pressure to Hamas. And if that was the intent, then perhaps that additional pressure around the table in Doha was

a significant factor.

But also in a negotiation, both parties, if they're going to step away from the table, want to make it look as if the other party is failing and wrong

foot the other party. So, by Hamas saying that they agree to something that we understand potentially may not be fully what Israel wants and will

accept, again, could be a negotiating position their part to try to wrong- foot Israel, because if Israel really was ready for that offensive into Rafah, that's a very forward-leaning military position. A lot of troops

will have been moved. A lot of armor will have been moved. A lot of things will have been readied.

So, none of that gets moved back easily. So, of course, while we wait for Israel to announce its position and potentially other details are hammered

out behind the scenes it is -- it does appear at the moment as if Hamas has put Prime Minister Netanyahu on the back foot.

GOLODRYGA: Nic Robertson, thank you so much for joining us. Any developing news that you do get, please let us know.

We're going to turn to Aaron David Miller, who is a former State Department Middle East negotiator. And he joins me now from Washington, D.C. So, I'm

sure you've been listening to this development as we have been covering it live for our viewers.

And just to take a step back and remind our viewers of what the sticking point, the major disagreement point in this most recent deal appeared to be

and that was whether there would be a permanent end to the fighting or whether there would be a lengthy sustained ceasefire. Both Yahya Sinwar and

Bibi Netanyahu standing firm. Netanyahu's point was that this war would not end under Hamas' terms.

Now, we see that there appears to be, as we heard from Nic Robertson, maybe a different element added to what they view as an acceptable deal. We have

yet to hear from the Israelis. What do you make of this developing news?


AARON DAVID MILLER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: I mean, I think you're headed for some what I would call destructive ambiguity. If this going to

hinge on a firm Israeli commitment to withdraw the forces from Gaza and agree to a comprehensive ceasefire at the end of three rounds -- three

phases, which is exactly what Hamas wants. And they want assurances from the United States, from the Egyptians, and the extent the Qataris matter

when it comes to Israel, from Qatar as well, I think this going to be a very, very heavy lift.

Which raises the -- you know, it's not for nothing that Middle East negotiations really only have two speeds, slow and slower. And this

negotiation is perversely complicated, by the fact that the primary Palestinian decision maker is sitting in a tunnel, ensconced below Khan

Younis, Rafah, or maybe even in a tunnel in Sinai, below ground. And Ismail Haniyeh, the political head of Hamas, is making statements on his behalf.

I mean, they're just -- there are a lot of things we don't know. What is the Egyptian-Qatari ceasefire agreement? How closely does it correspond to

the want -- to the Israeli position that Secretary of State Blinken, in a sense, locking himself in to supporting Israel described as extremely

generous? Is this a commitment to do a, to the first phase, which is 33 hostages, the women whose position is increasingly fraught, the elderly and

the infirm in exchange for up to a thousand Palestinian prisoners, a hundred of whom are either accused or charged with killing Israelis? And

the Israelis would redeploy from key areas in Gaza and limit their overflight activities during the period where the hostages are being

exchanged for prisoners?

All set within a 40-day time frame, and then move on to phase two, which would be an indirect negotiation to seek out a more durable period of calm

in which all of the hostages would be released in exchange for more Palestinian prisoners. I just think it's incredibly confusing right now.

GOLODRYGA: Yes. And --

A. MILLER: And the fact that the government of Israel has not responded authoritatively or quickly, it clearly is a concern.

GOLODRYGA: And it appears that the parameters of whatever deal was on the table just as recently as 24 hours ago appear to be changing in real-time.

I want to go back to what we heard from reporting from Becky Anderson saying that her sources familiar with the talks told CNN that it's the

three-day meeting in Doha between the CIA director and the Qatari prime minister that finally convinced Hamas to accept this three-part deal.

One would imagine then that the U.S. -- if that is true, the U.S. should not be then surprised by whatever is included in this deal. But yet, we

have yet to hear from the U.S. side on this.

A. MILLER: That is 100 percent correct. And Bill Burns, who's established a very close relationship -- CIA director, established a very close

relationship with Mossad Director David Barnea. If Bill Burns has been monitoring, reviewing, presiding over this, then he is acutely aware of

what the Israelis initially agreed to.

He's also acutely aware of what the margin is between what Hamas wants, additional assurances that at least the Egyptians, apparently and the

Qataris are willing to provide and what the Biden administration is prepared to do and he'll presumably be briefing Jake Sullivan, Tony Blinken

and the president on where that delta is, if in fact there is a delta. Then it comes down to the question of the government of Israel.

And to borrow a phrase from one of -- from my -- one of my former bosses, James Baker, who was a master of observing what he called the dead cat on

the doorstep strategy, it may well be that Hamas has maneuvered itself into a situation where that dead cat is on the doorstep of Benjamin Netanyahu.

And if in fact the Americans are willing to support the Egyptian and Qatari changes, fixes, assurances, then you could be headed either for some

creative ambiguity to iron this all out or a train wreck.

GOLODRYGA: Aaron, please stay with us. I do want to bring in our Kylie Atwood, who's joining us from the State Department in Washington. So,

Kylie, there's still a lot more questions than answers at this point. It appears that every statement we're getting and every bit of news is coming

from Hamas officials and Becky Anderson has been reporting about how they came about and around to agree to this deal following the three-day meeting

in Doha.


Square us from where we are right now to where we were a few days ago where Secretary of State Blinken called the offer then on the table a very

generous, an incredibly generous offer that Israel agreed to.

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN U.S. SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Well, listen, I mean, that's the last time that U.S. officials spoke about the deal that was on

the table. When the secretary, as you said, was very clear in his language saying that the onus is on Hamas to accept the deal, saying that they are

standing in the way of the ceasefire, they are standing in the way of this deal to release the hostages.

And he said that Israel had made, in his words, important compromises in terms of the deal that had been put forth through the Egyptian negotiators,

making the case effectively that this was the best deal that Hamas was going to get.

So, what's striking is that if Hamas has accepted that version of the deal, we don't know exactly if that's the case, but if they have, they have

completely put the ball in Israel's court, and it is now Israel's turn to determine if they are going to accept the deal that they had in some way,

shape, or form indicated that they were in favor of through the Egyptians and the Qataris that have been, you know, leading this process in terms of

communicating back and forth with Hamas.

Now, we're expecting the State Department briefing to start here in about two minutes. It was supposed to begin about an hour ago. So, obviously,

U.S. officials are delayed in their briefing schedule here in Washington as they're trying to figure out what they say about all of this.

Presumably they know what the deal Hamas accepted was if the CIA director, Bill Burns, so intimately involved in Doha, as you said, Becky Anderson

reported. So, now, we'll watch to see how they respond to what Hamas has said today, and I've actually got to run into that room right now.

GOLODRYGA: OK. Kylie, you don't want to miss that. Please let us know anything that you hear from that briefing. Thank you.

Let's go back to Aaron David Miller for more on this. And Aaron, I just am continued to be puzzled. If we can go back to the earlier conversation, we

had about how this could have come about, given Becky's reporting, if we are to take Hamas at their word that it was this intimate mediation and

negotiation that involved the prime minister of Qatar and CIA Director Bill Burns that finally convinced Hamas to say yes to this deal, how is that

possible that we don't yet hear any news from the Israeli government or the U.S. administration, President Biden, especially given that Biden and Bibi

spoke less than two hours ago. I'm not saying they have to tell and read out every single part of their conversation.

Hold on, Aaron. David. Maybe we'll get that answered. We're going to take you to the State Department briefing and hoping they will be talking about

this right now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you asking the Israelis to do anything?

MATTHEW MILLER, U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: So, as the president said on May 3rd, journalists and media workers are an essential part of any

democracy because well informed dissent is critical to building stronger and more successful societies and we will continue to support and advocate

for free and independent media around the world. We think Al Jazeera ought to be able to operate in Israel as they operate in other countries in the


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, you oppose?

M. MILLER: We do.


M. MILLER: We do.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. All right. Then getting onto -- so, you've seen these reports in the last hour about Hamas accepting ceasefire but also the

Israelis ordering or telling people in Rafah to get out. What's your take on that?

M. MILLER: So, I can confirm that Hamas has issued a response. We are reviewing that response now and discussing it with our partners in the

region. As you know, Director Burns is in the region working on this in real-time. We will be discussing this response with our partners over the

coming hours. We continue to believe that a hostage deal is in the works. It's in the best interest of the Israeli people. It's in the best interest

of the Palestinian people. It would bring an immediate ceasefire. It would allow increased movement of humanitarian assistance. And so, we're going to

continue to work to try to reach one.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And so -- but you haven't made any -- yet, made any determination about whether this is -- whether they're accepting what is on

the table, or they're accepting something that is different?

M. MILLER: We have only received the response in the last hour 90 minutes. And as I said, are going through it now and discussing it with it --

discussing it with partners in the region. So, I don't want to characterize the nature of that response just yet.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can I follow up on Al Jazeera?

M. MILLER: Shannon (ph), go ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you. There have been some reports that -- from Israel that perhaps Hamas agreed to a proposal that was put together by

Egypt and Qatar that was softer than the initial framework that was in the works last week. Is it possible that there has been a different proposal

that the U.S. is not involved with the tracking?


M. MILLER: So, I've seen those suggestions. I've seen some of those reports, and I think you'll -- I hope you'll understand that because we are

still reviewing the response that has come in and because we were working on this in real-time and trying to reach an agreement, I'm just going to

decline to comment on detail about any of those reports.

We are going to be discussing this response with our partners in the region in the hours ahead. It remains our top priority to try to reach a ceasefire

agreement that will lead to the release of hostages that will allow a surge of humanitarian assistance both into Gaza and allow it to move around

inside Gaza, but I don't want to comment on any of the various reports about what they might have been responding to until we've been able to go

through it in detail and come to a full understanding and discuss it with our partners.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And can you say at this point -- maybe you can't, but Hamas is political wing and their militant wing, are they on the same page

here? Do you feel like this a response that at least indicates where the entire group is?

M. MILLER: I'm just not going to speak for Hamas at all. As we have said for some time, there has been a significant offer on the table. The ball

has been in Hamas' court. We have made clear that they should accept that offer, that Israel made significant compromises, showed that they wanted to

reach an agreement that would lead to the release of hostages, that would bring an immediate ceasefire. And we have hoped that Hamas would take the

deal that was on the table.

Now, as to what's in their response, what it looks like, we're going to review that and withhold judgment until we've had a chance to conduct a

full review.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can I ask about this -- the threatened Israeli offensive in Rafah? In the hours before this, there are lots of reports about

evacuations, not just reports, but Israel is talking about evacuations from Rafah. How does this -- what's the U.S. message of this now? Do you think

that Israel should hold off on any operations in Rafah as we discuss this response?

M. MILLER: Of course, we do. We've made quite clear our position Rafah for some time, which is that we cannot support an operation in Rafah as it is

currently envisioned. We have made clear, the secretary made this clear in his conversations with Prime Minister Netanyahu and other members of the

Israeli government last week that we have not seen humanitarian plan that is credible and that is implementable.

And we believe a military operation in Rafah right now would dramatically increase the suffering of the Palestinian people, would lead to an increase

in loss of civilian life, would dramatically disrupt the delivery of humanitarian assistance, all of which is coming through. I shouldn't say

all, but the great majority of which is coming through Kerem Shalom or Rafah and is being distributed inside the Rafah area.

If you think about what it would do when you have people moving north to places where internal distribution lines are not currently set up, and

you're going to have to try to reestablish those in the middle of conflict in Rafah, we think that would be very difficult, if not impossible to do.

So, even absent this latest response, we have made clear that we do not support Israel launching a full-scale military operation in Rafah.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sure. I mean, you just said in terms of that that's the standing U.S. position this. But has there been any communication with the

Israelis about, I mean, the past hours or so about the response from Hamas and how this affects the situation in Rafah? Is there a message?

M. MILLER: I'm just not going to get into our -- those conversations. As I said, we just literally in the past hour, 90 minutes received that response

from Hamas in the first place. Of course, we will be discussing it with Egypt, with Qatar, with Israel, the three countries with whom we have been

working throughout this negotiation process. But I don't want to get into the timing of those.

But obviously, if we have -- if those conversations have not already started, they will be ongoing in the next several hours.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Under the current circumstances, do you still think a ceasefire is achievable based on what you know coming here?

M. MILLER: What do you mean? Is a ceasefire achievable? A ceasefire is what we are trying to achieve.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. But, I mean, over the weekend, there was like -- there was a quiet impasse, and right now, Hamas has accepted it. But from

Israel, we're hearing that, that's not the proposal that we've sent. That's a softened version that throws into the whole thing into doubt.

M. MILLER: And I think --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, I'm just wondering, like, what's your sense here?

M. MILLER: A ceasefire is absolutely achievable. There has been a deal on the table, a proposal on the table, that would achieve an immediate

ceasefire and the release of hostages. Now, as for Hamas' response, which I think gets to your question, again, I don't want to characterize it in any

sort of detail until we've had a chance to review it in depth and talk with our partners in the region about it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And one thing on the humanitarian aid. Last week when secretary was in Israel there was an increased emphasis on -- during his

trip on the delivery of humanitarian aid. We visited Kerem Shalom, which got shut down over the weekend after the Hamas attack. But can you give us

like a sense of what a Rafah offensive, how that would impact all of Gaza? Because there are issues with distribution in the north. If we have a Rafah

offensive in the south, could there be any meaningful humanitarian aid delivery in the north?


M. MILLER: So, let me just speak broadly to all of Gaza first, and then I'll come to the north. So, certainly, a Rafah operation in -- a Rafah

operation would make it incredibly difficult to sustain the increases in humanitarian assistance that we have been able to deliver over the past few

weeks since the president's call with Prime Minister Netanyahu on April 4th.

You have seen an increase in the number of trucks going in through Kerem Shalom. You have seen an increase in the distribution inside of Gaza,

including inside Southern Gaza. All of that would be put in jeopardy by a Rafah offensive because, obviously, just look at what happened in the past

24 hours when you saw Hamas rocket attacks on Kerem Shalom that led to the death of three IDF soldiers and led to the closure of Kerem Shalom.

If you had an ongoing kinetic military operation, you know, it doesn't take a genius to figure out the impact that that would have on the delivery of

humanitarian assistance, not just through Kerem Shalom, not just through Rafah gate, but of course inside all of Rafah and all of Southern Gaza.

Now, separate from that, we have been working on standing up additional delivery mechanisms to get aid directly in to Northern Gaza without having

to go through Kerem Shalom. Not because we anticipated an upcoming Rafah operation, but because it's so difficult to get aid through Kerem Shalom

and then move it all the way to the north of Gaza. So, that's why you saw the opening of Erez Crossing, which is something that the president

insisted on and something that we achieved last week when the secretary was there, first in Jordan and in -- then in Israel.

So, you can have trucks move directly from Jordan through Erez Crossing in the north, not have to go all the way to Kerem Shalom, come back up north.

You saw Ashdod Port opening, so goods can come directly from Ashdod and go in through Northern Crossing, and it's why we're standing up the maritime


So, there will be ways to get humanitarian assistance into Northern Gaza directly. We have been working on those because it's important to do so,

because we've seen how difficult it is to get aid from Southern Gaza into Northern Gaza.

It's hard to speculate what the impact of a Rafah operation would have on the delivery of that aid to Northern Gaza. But certainly, you can say

without a doubt that it would dramatically impact the delivery of humanitarian assistance in Southern Gaza.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just going off of that for a second, you said earlier -- reiterated that the U.S. doesn't support a full-scale invasion into

Rafah. What about a limited invasion into Rafah?

M. MILLER: So, I'm not going to speculate on the types of military operation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's not speculating. The Israeli government --

M. MILLER: I'm about to answer. So, there are proposals that we have put on the table. And this why I'm not going to talk about some of this publicly.

There are proposals that we have put on the table to the Israeli government that we have discussed with them that we think would be a much more

limited, much more targeted, much more effective way of achieving their legitimate military objectives, which is taking on the Hamas battalions

that are remaining in Rafah.

Those look very different than the types of operations that we have seen proposed publicly by the Israeli government. And I think I'll leave it at


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, just to be clear, what you've proposed to them isn't your understanding of what they're planning to go ahead with in the

near future?

M. MILLER: I'm not going to speak to what they might be planning to go ahead with. I'll let them speak to that. We've seen the announcement they

made today about evacuation orders for not the entire -- not entire Southern Gaza, not the entire Rafah area, but for a significant portion of

it, 100,000 people.

And I -- of course, we have concerns that any evacuation at all in such a crowded area, if you see 100,000 people move, you're going to see other

people in the next area move as well, which, of course, is something that you want to see happen if there's a military operation. But the problem now

is there's such limited places for them to go inside Gaza, and there is no effective way to distribute them -- distribute aid to them and make sure

they have access to shelter, access to sanitation in the places that they would go if, say, you had hundreds of thousands of people moving from


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But then without characterizing the Hamas response, given you guys are still reviewing it, would you say it's a hopeful sign

that they have given a response here?

M. MILLER: I think that would be characterizing it. So, I'm going to decline to do so until we have completed that review.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And when do you think you'll be able to complete that review? When should we expect an assessment from the administration?

M. MILLER: The -- Director Burns, as I said, is in the region literally working on this right now. I don't want to put a timetable on it, but it's

something that is a top priority for everyone in this administration, from the president on down. You saw the president had a phone call with Prime

Minister Netanyahu today. Achieving a ceasefire deal that would lead to the release of hostages was one of the top priorities of the secretary's trip

when he was in the region last week. So, everyone is focused on this. Everyone is trying to get a deal over the line.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you. Last week, there was some reporting that the Biden administration had put a hold on a shipment of U.S. made

ammunition to Israel. Have you seen that report? Can you comment on its accuracy?

M. MILLER: I have seen that report --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- on the table and what seems to be accepted now. Does that mean that the ball is no longer in Hamas' court?