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CIA director to meet with Israel intel chief, Qatar's PM to try to reach a hostages breakthrough

WASHINGTON — CIA Director William Burns will meet with Israel’s Mossad director, David Barnea, and Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani this weekend in Europe to try to further negotiations to secure the release of hostages being held in Gaza.

A diplomat with knowledge of the matter confirmed the upcoming meeting to NBC News, first reported by The Washington Post. Further details on the location of the meeting were unclear.

National Security Council spokesman John Kirby referred reporters to the CIA when asked about Burns’ activities, noting the director has been involved in trying to reach another hostage deal. Kirby also said that Brett McGurk, the White House coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa, is currently in the region to try to spur some movement on the matter.

More than 130 people are believed to remain captive in Gaza, most likely hidden underground in tunnels or held in private homes.

Israeli officials have said in recent days that Hamas is demanding a permanent halt of fighting, a total withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza and the release of a large number of Palestinian prisoners, including some who carried out the Oct. 7 attack on Israel. The terrorist group outlined those terms in a statement Thursday.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, however, rejected Hamas’ demands last weekend.

Speaking to Israeli soldiers at a military base near Gaza on Thursday, Netanyahu said, “Total victory means eliminating Hamas and returning all of our hostages — we will not give in on this goal,” according to the Israeli government.

William Burns on Capitol Hill on Feb. 24, 2021.
William Burns on Capitol Hill on Feb. 24, 2021.Tom Williams / CQ Roll Call via AP file

This month, Israel and Hamas struck a deal that allowed for the delivery of humanitarian aid and medicine to civilians in Gaza in exchange for medication being provided to hostages still held captive.

During their Oct. 7 attack, Hamas killed about 1,200 people and about 240 people were kidnapped and taken to Gaza. More than 1.7 million people have been displaced in Gaza.

As part of a truce in November, more than 100 hostages were released from Gaza in exchange for the release of 240 Palestinian prisoners by Israel. In early December, however, the ceasefire ended, with Israel and the U.S. saying Hamas broke the terms of the agreement and sent rockets into Israel.


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