U.S. President Joe Biden said Monday he hopes to have a cease-fire in the Israel-Hamas conflict in Gaza begin by next Monday as the warring parties appeared to close in on a deal during negotiations in Qatar that also aim to broker the release of hostages.

The presence of both sides for so-called proximity talks — meeting mediators separately but in the same city — suggested negotiations were further along than at any time since a big push at the start of February, when Israel rejected a Hamas counter-offer for a four-and-a-half-month truce.

Biden said he hoped a cease-fire would start within days. "Well I hope by the beginning of the weekend, by the end of the weekend," he said, when asked when he expected a cease-fire to start.