The CIA director, William Burns, is expected to join teams from Hamas and Israel in Cairo today for negotiations over a ceasefire and prisoner exchange as international pressure increases to advance the talks.
Israel’s delegation includes its heads of intelligence, David Barnea of the Mossad and Ronen Bar, the director of Shin Bet. Also attending are the Egyptian intelligence director, Abbas Kamel, and the Qatari prime minister, Mohammed bin Abdul Rahman Al Thani. A senior Egyptian official said the meeting would focus on “crafting a final draft” of a six-week ceasefire deal, with guarantees that the parties would continue negotiations toward a permanent ceasefire amid suggestions of “significant” progress.
Egypt’s intelligence agency has acted as a significant interlocutor in past conflicts between Hamas and Israel, while Burns’ presence is seen as underlining US pressure for an end to hostilities.
“The key element of the deals are on the table,” Biden told journalists at a briefing alongside the visiting Jordanian king, Abdullah II.
“There are gaps that remain, but I’ve encouraged Israeli leaders to keep working to achieve the deal,” he said, adding that Israel should not launch a ground offensive into the southern Gaza city of Rafah without a “credible plan” to safeguard the 1.4 million displaced civilians sheltering there.
A western diplomat in the Egyptian capital also said a six-week deal was on the table but cautioned that more work was needed to reach an agreement.
Netanyahu has publicly insisted on a hardline position, saying Israel would continue its offensive until total victory. However, behind the scenes, officials have suggested that incremental progress was being made in negotiations for a second, longer ceasefire, according to two officials with direct knowledge of the talks.
Israel has proposed a two-month ceasefire, in which hostages would be freed in exchange for the release of Palestinians imprisoned by Israel, and top Hamas leaders in Gaza would be allowed to move to other countries.
Hamas rejected those terms and has laid out a three-phase plan of 45 days each in which the hostages would be released in stages, Israel would free hundreds of imprisoned Palestinians, including senior militants, and the
war would be wound down, with Israel withdrawing its troops.
I’ve shared this article despite the information being from unnamed sources because a ceasefire is needed. And the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians needs to stop.