Israel will send a delegation to Cairo, Egypt this week for renewed hostage negotiation talks due to a potential “change of direction” which could happen soon, according to local media reports.
The Israeli delegation will reportedly include Mossad Director David Barnea, Shin Bet Head Ronen Bar and retired Maj.-Gen. Nitzan Alon. While in Cairo, the delegation is expected to meet with CIA Director Bill Burns, Egyptian Intelligence Director Abbas Kamel and Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdul Rahman Al-Thani to discuss developments in a new hostage deal.
While the anonymous sources did not clarify what the “change of direction” might be, some analysts believe it is related to recent intelligence findings made by Israel Defense Forces in the Gaza Strip.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Egypt is attempting to pressure Hamas into accepting a hostage deal by threatening to support Israel’s Rafah operation. The Egyptian government reportedly told Hamas that if they don’t make some compromises within two weeks, it will agree to the IDF's ground operation into Rafah.
The issue of an IDF incursion into Rafah has recently become a point of contention between Egypt and Israel, as Egypt says a flood of Palestinian refugees into the Sinai would destabilize the region and lead to the suspension of the decades-long peace treaty between the two countries.
Israel refused Hamas’ demands in the most recent rounds of hostage release discussions when it demanded a complete withdrawal of all IDF troops from the Gaza Strip and a complete ceasefire before it would release any hostages, terms which Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called 'delusional.'
Israeli site Walla News said Israel also refused Hamas’ demands for the prisoner exchange, with Hamas requesting up to 150 prisoners per hostage, including jailed Palestinians serving life sentences for terror-related killings.
Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said that deepening and intensifying IDF operations in southern Gaza will ultimately lead to Hamas capitulating to a more "realistic" deal.
“We've penetrated to the most sensitive core of Hamas - their intelligence is now being used against them. The deepening of the operation brings us closer to a realistic deal for the return of the hostages,” Gallant said in remarks at the Julis base on Sunday morning.
U.S. President Joe Biden has recently been pushing for at least a temporary ceasefire, in part to appease growing discomfort within the Democratic party as Israel's war against Hamas continues in Gaza.
Biden, himself, created some friction with the Egyptian government after claiming Egypt was initially unwilling to open the Rafah crossing for humanitarian aid into Gaza. Biden claimed that he eventually convinced President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to agree.
During his remarks at a press conference on Thursday, Biden claimed that el-Sisi “initially did not want to open the crossing to allow humanitarian aid in. I spoke to him and persuaded him to open the crossing. I also spoke to Bibi to open the gate from the Israeli side.”
In the same remarks, Biden mistakenly called el-Sisi the “president of Mexico.”
El-Sisi's office responded to the claims by stating: “From the very beginning, Egypt has opened the Rafah crossing from its side without restrictions or conditions.”
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.