Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director Bill Burns, sent by President Joe Biden, will be arriving in Egypt on Tuesday 13 February to discuss a new deal aimed at securing the release of the remaining Israeli hostages in Gaza.
The move comes as negotiations between Israel and Hamas are ongoing, with Egypt and Qatar serving as mediators. While Egypt considers Hamas’ response to a proposed long-term ceasefire and prisoner swap deal as positive, Israel has rejected it.
Burns previously visited Europe, and recently met with various officials in Paris to develop a proposal involving the release of the approximately 130 hostages in Gaza in exchange for longer periods of ceasefire.
His upcoming trip to Cairo marks the fifth round of talks, and it is expected to involve discussions with Qatari Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu publicly dismissed Hamas’ latest counter-proposal as “delusional,” while Secretary of State Antony Blinken acknowledged that it contained both nonstarters and potential areas for agreement.
Details about the upcoming talks in Cairo, including the participants and their roles, have yet to be confirmed as the CIA declined to comment on Burns’ travel plans.
This will be the latest effort to resolve, following previous negotiations in Qatar that resulted in the release of over 100 hostages, hundreds of Palestinian prisoners, and a seven-day pause in fighting.
Hamas’ latest counter-offer outlines a phased release of hostages in exchange for extended periods of ceasefire and the eventual withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza.
They also demand the release of Palestinian prisoners, increased aid, and commitments to rebuild Gaza.