Some 17 countries, including the US, issued a joint statement on Thursday backing the latest proposal for the release of the remaining 124 hostages held by Hamas in Gaza.

“There is no time to lose,” said the statement issued by countries whose citizens are among the captives.“We call on Hamas to close this agreemen, that Israel is ready to move forward wit, and begin the process of releasing our citizens,” the statement said.

Its issuance is part of a massive global diplomatic initiative US President Joe Biden set in motion on May 31 when he unveiled a three-phase proposal which he and his administration officials have said has Israel’s approval.

The deal allows for the release of humanitarian hostages in its first six weeks in exchange for a lull to the war. It also outlines a negotiating process that could bring about an end to the war and the release of all the hostages, as well as set the stage for day-after plans and the reconstruction of Gaza.... Read More: JPost