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Biden’s weekend reading: A book on how to ‘break through the toughest conflicts’

By MJ Lee, CNN

(CNN) — As President Joe Biden exited the White House residence Friday evening to head to Camp David for the weekend, he was holding a hardcover copy of a newly released book: “Possible: How We Survive (and Thrive) in an Age of Conflict.”

The book, written by William Ury and published last month, is described as a guide to “time-tested practices that will help readers unlock their power to constructively engage and transform conflict,” according to publisher Harper Collins. “[I]t is an essential guide for anyone looking to break through the toughest conflicts—in their workplace, family, community or the world.”

The publisher also says the author “draws on his nearly fifty years of experience and knowledge grappling with the world’s toughest conflicts to offer a way out of the seemingly impossible problems of our time.”

Biden is currently grappling with what is arguably one of the world’s toughest conflicts: the Israel-Hamas war. That was fully evident in the questions he received from reporters moments before he boarded Marine One, when he was asked more than once about the situation in Israel and Gaza, as well as the state of ceasefire-hostages negotiations. His assessment was mixed.

“I’m hoping so. We’re still working real hard at it, not there yet,” he said when asked by CNN whether a ceasefire deal could be reached by Ramadan.

Moments later, he told a different reporter when asked whether a hostage deal could be reached by Monday: “It’s not there yet. I think we’ll get there, but it’s not there yet. And it may not get there now.”

The president had said earlier in the week that he hoped there’d be a ceasefire in Gaza by Monday.

Biden is expected to spend much of the weekend preparing for his upcoming State of the Union address on Thursday. Those remarks are expected to address the situation in Israel – but how he does so hinges in large part on whether a temporary ceasefire deal can be reached before then.

If Biden can tout his successful efforts to bring the first cessation in fighting in the war since late November in his State of the Union speech, it could offer significant reprieve for the White House, which has come under mounting criticism and pressure to call for a permanent ceasefire.

A number of the family members of the remaining Israeli-American hostages in Gaza plan to attend the address at the invitation of members of Congress, a source familiar told CNN.

White House officials and Biden allies hope that the Israel-Hamas war – which has eroded support for Biden among key constituencies like Arab Americans, young voters and progressives – will be fully in the rear-view mirror by November, and that perhaps Thursday’s speech could help mark a public turning of the corner in the deadly conflict.

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