Wednesday, July 24, 2024

CIA chief to discuss new Gaza hostage deal and cease-fire with Israel and Qatar – Reports | Israel-Gaza War

The director of the Central Intelligence Agency and his Israeli counterpart will meet with Qatari officials in the coming days to discuss a second possible Gaza hostage deal and a ceasefire in the fighting, three sources familiar with the matter told Reuters on Thursday.

William Burns and the head of Israel's Mossad intelligence service, David Barnia, will meet Qatari Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani in Europe later this week, an official told the news agency.

Egyptian intelligence chief Abbas Kamal will also attend, a second source said.

American media also reported that Burns would travel to Europe to meet with Israeli and Qatari officials about the ceasefire.

Joe Biden's administration is trying to free more than 100 remaining hostages taken during Hamas' October 7 attacks on Israel that sparked the war in Gaza and killed 1,200 people, mostly civilians. However, there is a considerable gap between the two sides' demands.

US and Israeli intelligence chiefs previously met with Qatari and Egyptian officials to help broker a short-lived ceasefire in November that saw the release of more than 100 hostages.

Burns was “involved in helping us with a hostage deal and helping us pursue another,” White House national security spokesman John Kirby said, referring specific questions to reporters traveling with Biden on Air Force One.

The CIA, which has a policy of not disclosing the director's travel, declined to comment on the meeting. The Washington Post.

US ally Israel has vowed to eradicate Hamas, which Palestinian health officials say has unleashed strikes that have leveled much of Gaza and killed at least 25,700 people.

A third source familiar with the negotiations said Israel has proposed a 60-day pause in the fighting, during which more than 100 hostages, including civilian women and children, would be released in phases.

This will be followed by the release of the remains of civilian men, women soldiers and hostages who died after being abducted by Hamas, the source said.

That plan, however, sharply contrasts with Hamas' last proposal, raising questions about whether the gap can be bridged. According to the source, Hamas last week proposed an end to the war, an international guarantee that it would not start anew, and the release of all prisoners held by Israel, including those who participated in its October 7 offensive.

Israel continues to oppose a permanent ceasefire, a position supported by Washington. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that Israel rejected Hamas's terms.

Qatar's Al Thani is expected to be in Washington next week after the planned weekend talks. On Monday, he is scheduled to speak at the Atlantic Council, according to the think tank's website.

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