In a significant diplomatic development, the head of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), William Burns, and Mossad chief David Barnea are scheduled to meet with the Prime Minister of Qatar, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, in a European capital. The aim of this meeting is to negotiate a temporary ceasefire in the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict in the Gaza Strip.
The primary focus of the discussion will be on securing the release of the remaining 132 hostages held by Hamas since October 7. Additionally, the leaders will address the prospects of a pause in the hostilities within the Gaza Strip. The meeting is set to include the participation of the chiefs of Shin Bet and Egyptian intelligence, as reported by Hebrew media.
This diplomatic effort follows a previous meeting involving Burns, Barnea, and Qatari and Egyptian officials, which resulted in a temporary weeklong ceasefire from November 24 to December 1, 2023, during which 105 hostages were released.
White House Middle East czar Brett McGurk's recent visits to Qatar and Egypt underscore the ongoing international engagement on the hostage release issue.
Israel's war cabinet, convened at the Kirya military headquarters in Tel Aviv, recently discussed the hostage talks. The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) hostage envoy, Nitzan Alon, and PMO hostage coordinator, Gal Hirsch, were present during this session.
While Israel has expressed willingness for a one-month ceasefire, Hamas is pushing for a permanent resolution to the conflict, including the withdrawal of IDF from the Gaza Strip. These demands have been met with rejection by Israel.
The situation stems from an October 7 incident when Hamas terrorists infiltrated southern Israel, resulting in the death of 1,200 people and the kidnapping of 240 individuals. During the previous truce, 105 hostages were released, with additional casualties reported, including accidental deaths caused by the IDF. Currently, efforts to reach a comprehensive agreement face challenges, with differing stances on the duration of the ceasefire and the broader terms for resolution.
(With Agency Inputs)