CIA and Mossad chiefs hold talks on hostage deal with Hamas

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The heads of the CIA and the Israeli Mossad are expected to hold talks with senior Egyptian and Qatari officials on Tuesday in an attempt to revive negotiations on an agreement to stop the war between Israel and Hamas and secure the release of hostages held in Gaza, according to the Independent website. People familiar with this process.

The negotiations, which are likely to be held in Cairo, come a week after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected Hamas' demands for an agreement as “fictitious” and pledged to press for “complete victory” in the war with the Palestinian armed group.

Despite Netanyahu's stance, US President Joe Biden said on Monday that he would do “everything possible” to broker a six-week ceasefire between Israel and Hamas and the release of the hostages.

He warned Israel that its forces should not launch an attack in Rafah, a crowded city with a population of more than a million people located near Gaza's border with Egypt, “without a credible plan” to protect civilians.

Biden was speaking after a meeting at the White House with Jordanian King Abdullah, who warned that the Israeli attack on Rafah “will lead to another humanitarian disaster.”

King Abdullah said: “We cannot tolerate an Israeli attack on Rafah.” “The situation is already unbearable for more than a million people who have been pushed into Rafah since the war began. We cannot stand idly by and let this continue. We need a permanent ceasefire now.”

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Mediators hope that Mossad chief David Barnea's plan to travel to Egypt is a sign that Israel remains open to discussions about a potential deal, despite Netanyahu's speech.

“The discussions were constructive and there is a willingness to reach a compromise,” said a diplomat familiar with the talks. “Barnea will not go to the talks unless he gets the green light.”

“Key elements of the agreement are on the table,” Biden said on Monday. He added: “There are still gaps,” but he “encouraged Israeli leaders to continue working to achieve the deal.”

Last week, Hamas proposed a ceasefire for four and a half months, during which the remaining hostages would be released in stages in exchange for Israel releasing 1,500 Palestinian prisoners, including 500 serving life sentences. This proposal was in response to a framework agreement brokered in January.

Hamas also called on Israeli forces to withdraw from major urban centers in Gaza during the first phase of the truce, and to withdraw completely from the besieged Strip in the second phase.

The talks, brokered by the United States, Qatar and Egypt, have been stalled for weeks over Israel's rejection of Hamas's insistence that any hostage deal must end in a permanent ceasefire.

David Barnea, head of the Israeli spy agency Mossad, is expected to meet the head of the CIA in Egypt. © AFP via Getty Images

Since launching its offensive on Gaza in response to a devastating Hamas attack on October 7, Israel has pledged to eliminate the Palestinian militant group and maintain public security in the Strip.

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The diplomat said crucial sticking points remained the issue of a permanent ceasefire – which the mediators also want to include at the end of any hostage deal – and the withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza.

But mediators hope to reach compromises.

After Netanyahu rejected Hamas' proposals last week, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that while there were some “clear beginnings” put forward by the armed movement, “we believe it creates space to reach an agreement and we will work on that.” So relentless until we get there.”

Parnia and CIA Director Bill Burns recently held talks with Qatari and Egyptian officials in Paris last month, during which they agreed on the framework of the agreement, which calls for a six-week cessation of hostilities in order to exchange hostages and prisoners. But this arrangement did not guarantee a permanent ceasefire.

After Israeli forces released two hostages in Gaza on Monday, Netanyahu said: “Only sustained military pressure, until complete victory, will lead to the release of all our hostages.”

Hamas is believed to be holding around 130 hostages, including the bodies of some of those who died. The group killed about 1,200 people and captured 250 people during its attack on October 7.

The latest hostage talks come as international pressure mounts on Israel to end its war in Gaza, which has killed more than 28,000 people, according to Palestinian health officials.

Global concern about the Israeli attack has increased since Netanyahu ordered the army to prepare to evacuate civilians from Rafah.

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Biden, who faces mounting pressure to do more to address Palestinian suffering, last week described Israel's military response in Gaza as “exaggerated.” He said on Monday that “a very large number” of the more than 27,000 people killed in Gaza “were innocent civilians and children.”

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