CIA chief to visit Egypt in bid for Gaza ceasefire, captives swap: Axios

Ahram Online , Saturday 10 Feb 2024

CIA Director Bill Burns is expected to travel to Cairo on Tuesday to hold talks with Egyptian officials on current efforts to launch negotiations for a new Gaza ceasefire deal that would secure the release of the remaining captives in Gaza, read an Axios report on Friday.

A picture taken from Rafah shows smoke billowing during Israeli bombardment over Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on February 10, 2024. Photo: AFP


Israel has refused most of the demands laid out by Hamas in response to the latest ceasefire and detainee swap proposal— a framework thrashed out in a Paris meeting in late January.

However, an Israeli official told Axios that Tel Aviv is ready to launch negotiations based on the original proposal put forth two weeks ago.

The White House now views a captive deal as the only way to get a ceasefire in Gaza, US officials told Axios. 

The report described Burns as Biden's “point person” in the efforts to secure such a deal, which it said the US is pushing hard for.

Egypt urged “flexibility from all parties” while hosting the latest round of Egyptian and Qatari-mediated negotiation new round of Gaza truce talks Thursday.

Paris Framework vs. Hamas demands

The Paris meeting, which involved Egyptian, Qatari, Israeli, and US officials, came up with a framework deal proposing a framework for a three-phase deal that included a six-week ceasefire.

During the ceasefire, a number of Palestinian prisoners would be freed in exchange for Hamas freeing 35 to 40 Israeli captives in the first stage. The proposal opens the door for further truce extension in return for releasing more captives and prisoners in other phases.

Hamas' counterproposal envisions three phases lasting 45 days each, leading to an end to the war, according to media reports.

Per Hamas' proposal, all Israeli female captives, males under 19, the elderly, and the sick would be released during the first 45-day phase in exchange for the release of Palestinian women and children from Israeli jails.

The second phase would witness the release of the remaining male captives for a set number of Palestinian prisoners and the third phase would see an exchange of the remains from both sides.

Hamas said in an addendum to the proposal that it wished for the release of 1,500 prisoners, a third of whom it wanted to select from the list of Palestinians handed life sentences by Israel.

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