CIA chief to meet Egyptian, Israeli counterparts in Europe for Gaza truce talks: Reports

Amr Kandil , Saturday 27 Jan 2024

Central Intelligence Agency Director William Burns will meet with Head of Egypt’s General Intelligence Service Abbas Kamel and Head of Israel’s Mossad David Barnea in Europe in the coming days, according to multiple reports, to seek a truce agreement between Hamas and Israel in Gaza.

William Burns, Abbas Kamel   David Barnea
Combined images of (from L to R) Central Intelligence Agency Director William Burns, Head of Egypt s General Intelligence Service Abbas Kamel and Head of Israel s Mossad David Barnea.


The anticipated deal aims to secure the release of over 100 remaining Israeli captives still held in Gaza and establish a sustained cessation of fighting.

While Israeli officials have rejected the idea of a permanent ceasefire, both Israel and Hamas reportedly agree in principle to a one-month ceasefire for the exchange of Israeli captives with Palestinian prisoners, as revealed by three sources to Reuters last week. 

However, differences between the two sides regarding the means to achieve a permanent end to the Israeli war have delayed progress on the framework plan.

The meeting between Burns and the intelligence chiefs, expected to take place in France, will also be attended by Qatari Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al-Thani.

The meeting occurs amidst mounting international calls for a ceasefire in Gaza and ongoing mediation efforts by Egypt and Qatar, who serve as key intermediaries between Hamas and Israel, to bring an end to the bloodshed that has persisted since 7 October.

Egypt, Qatar, US mediation

Egypt and Qatar successfully secured a week-long pause in Israeli aggression last November, resulting in the release of around 100 captives held in Gaza, including Israelis and foreigners. In exchange, Israel freed 240 Palestinian prisoners.

On Friday, US President Joe Biden held phone conversations with Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani to discuss the situation in Gaza. The discussions focused on joint efforts to secure the immediate release of all remaining captives held by Hamas and establish a “prolonged” humanitarian pause in the fighting, according to the White House.

Burns’s discussions are expected to build upon a recent visit by the White House’s Middle East coordinator, Brett McGurk, to both Cairo and Doha, which had similar objectives.

‘Unreasonable conditions’ for ceasefire

Egypt’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid stated on Wednesday that Egypt is constantly working towards achieving a ceasefire in Gaza. However, he mentioned that Israel has imposed “unreasonable conditions” making such a goal unattainable for now.

The devastating Israeli bombings in Gaza have claimed the lives of 26,257 Palestinians and left 64,797 others injured over the past 113 days, as stated by the Ministry of Health in Gaza on Saturday. These attacks have also forced over three-quarters of Gaza’s 2.3 million population to flee their homes, according to UN figures.

Despite a ruling by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Friday, which called upon Israel to take measures to prevent acts of genocide, Israel has vowed to continue its assaults in Gaza until it achieves “total victory.”

Egypt welcomed the ICJ ruling but said it had anticipated the ICJ to also demand an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.

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