Heads of Mossad, CIA to meet Qatar PM to discuss Gaza truce
The directors of Israel's Mossad intelligence service and the US Central Intelligence Agency will meet Qatar's prime minister in Europe this weekend to discuss a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip and release of hostages, an official briefed on the meeting told news agency Reuters on Thursday.
The Washington Post, which first reported CIA chief William Burns' trip, stated that Israel has proposed a two-month pause in fighting to allow for the phased release of the hostages still being held following Hamas' 7 October attack on Israel, citing officials familiar with the matter.
Sources confirmed to Al Jazeera that the US, Israeli, and Qatari officials will meet, along with the head of Egyptian intelligence Abbas Kamel.
The proposal came after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected a Hamas proposal for a prisoner swap that would see an end to Israel's war on Gaza.
White House National Security spokesman John Kirby recalled that Burns had already been involved in negotiations over a prior hostage agreement at the end of November and indicated that he was participating in efforts for another one.
Burns "has been... involved in helping us with the hostage deal that was in place and trying to help us pursue another one," White House national security spokesman John Kirby told reporters traveling with US President Joe Biden aboard Air Force One, referring specific questions to the agency.
The CIA, which has a policy of not disclosing the director's travel, declined to comment.
Burns' dispatch by Biden to speak with officials, including, Qatari Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, comes as Israel's military campaign in Gaza continues into its fourth month.
Amid attempts to negotiate a new truce, US President Joe Biden's Middle East envoy Brett McGurk is already in the region for talks.
The November hostage-prisoner swap occurred during a week-long truce under which some 100 people were freed by Hamas in exchange for 240 Palestinian prisoners held in Israel.
According to Israeli authorities, 132 hostages are still being held in the Gaza Strip, 28 of whom are presumed dead.
Hamas launched its October 7 attack, which resulted in about 1,140 deaths in Israel, according to Israeli figures.
Israel has conducted a relentless military campaign that has killed at least 25,900 people in the Palestinian territory, mostly women and children.