CIA Chief to Weigh In On Gaza Hostage Negotiations

( – The head of the CIA and Israeli Mossad will meet with Qatari officials over the next few days to finalize arrangements for a second potential ceasefire in exchange for Israeli hostages still being held in Gaza, according to three anonymous sources cited by Reuters. CIA Director Williams Burns and the Director of the Israeli Mossad David Barnea are expected to meet with the Qatari prime minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Adbulrahman Al Thani during a meeting in Europe over the weekend of January 27th and 28th.

Another source suggested Egyptian intelligence boss Abbas Kamel will also be involved. US media are also reporting that Burns is traveling to arrange a ceasefire with Israeli and Qatari officials.

Joe Biden’s administration has been attempting to resolve the crisis which started when Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israel on October 7th. The fighting has been heavy with massive airstrikes, bombing campaigns, and incursions by Israeli ground troops into Gaza. The fighting has resulted in over twenty-five thousand dead Palestinians and over a thousand dead Israelis. Palestinian authorities claim their dead are mostly civilian women and children.

A previous ceasefire deal in November resulted in the swap of over a hundred hostages and prisoners being held by Hamas and Israel. Many of the prisoners released were women or minors.

Israel has vowed to completely destroy Hamas as a governing authority and de facto military in Gaza. It’s unclear if the talks involved the removal of Hamas from power or if Israeli leadership is backing away from that goal.

Israel has suggested a 60-day pause in the fighting according to another source familiar with the matter. That would allow the release of hostages being held in Gaza in batches, with civilian women and children first and captured Israeli soldiers last.

Hamas is seeking a more permanent end to the war with international guarantees that Israel will not start more violence thereafter. Israel has so far refused to consider a complete end to hostilities and maintains a posture of wanting to negotiate each step of the process.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected Hamas’ calls for an end to the war on Sunday, January 21st, as talks continued behind the scenes.

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