CIA Director William Burns is expected to travel to Cairo next Tuesday for further hostage negotiations after a new set of conditions was handed over by Hamas to the Qatari government days ago, CBS confirmed News several sources close to the matter.
Qatari Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani will also be present.
While Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu publiclyDescribed as “delusional” during a fiery news conference Wednesday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken later said the response included some non-starters but also offered “space” for a possible deal.
Burns, whom the Biden administration tapped to lead U.S. efforts in hostage talks,late last month in Paris with Sheikh Mohammed, along with Egyptian intelligence chief Abbas Kamel and David Barnea, the head of Israel’s Mossad, to hammer out a proposal involving the release of the approximately 130 hostages still held in Gaza in exchange for longer breaks in combat. Officials from Israel’s internal security service, the Shin Bet, also attended the meeting.
It was not immediately clear whether all the same participants would gather again in Cairo. The CIA declined to comment on Burns’ trip.
This will be the fifth round of talks for Burns, who also participated in negotiations with the Mossad chief and the Qatari prime minister in Poland.And in Doha, Qatar in November when the first and only agreement was reached.
This agreement resulted in the release of more than 100 hostages, hundreds of Palestinian prisoners and a seven-day pause in the fighting.
In its latest counter-offer, Hamas proposed a gradual release of different categories of hostages in exchange for a 45-day pause in fighting and a possible withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza. The group also demanded the release of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails, as well as new aid influxes and commitments to rebuild Gaza.
The text of the counterproposal was delivered to the Qatari government about an hour before Blinken met on Tuesday with Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, who conveyed its contents to the US delegation. At a joint press conference on Tuesday, Qatar’s Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani described the response as “generally positive.”
Speaking in Washington, President Biden later called it “a bit of an exaggeration,” without elaborating.
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