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Mossad director to meet CIA head and Qatar PM to re-energize hostage deal talks

Cabinet approves further expansion of Israeli negotiating team’s mandate

Mossad Director David Barnea speaks during a Conference of the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS), in Tel Aviv, on September 10, 2023 (Photo by Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90).

Israel’s Mossad Director David Barnea will meet with CIA Director William Burns and Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani in Europe in the coming days, to restart the deadlocked hostage deal talks with Hamas, The Times of Israel reported on Friday.

Negotiations came to a halt earlier this month when the Hamas terrorist organization announced it had signed a deal proposal, but one that Israeli negotiators had never agreed to.

This week, CNN reported that Egyptian intelligence, which served as a mediator in the talks, presented different versions of the deal to Israel and leaders of Hamas, causing the breakdown of the talks.

Egypt will remain one of the main mediators, U.S. and Israeli officials told the Times, even though there were no reports whether Egypt’s intelligence chief, Abbas Kamel, would join the high-level meeting.

The reports of the planned meeting followed Israeli media saying the Cabinet had approved a further expansion of the negotiating team’s mandate during the coming round of talks.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu entered the discussion with a firm conviction not to expand the mandate, Ynet News reported. However, faced with a near-unanimous agreement in the room, he “was dragged” to approve it in the end.

Another important factor in the prime minister's change of mind was the video showing the abduction of the female IDF soldiers, sources told the Israeli news site.

During the discussion, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Herzi Halevi, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, War Cabinet Ministers Benny Gantz, Gadi Eisenkot and Ron Dermer, and Shas party chairman, Aryeh Deri, argued that the negotiation team should be “let loose” to try and bring about a breakthrough.

The terms of the deal that Hamas had approved were to include three stages, each stipulating 42 days of ceasefire.

During the second stage of the deal, Israel was to announce a permanent ceasefire, ostensibly an end to the war. Hamas claimed that the mediators assured the U.S. would guarantee Israel’s acceptance of the deal.

Israel felt it “got played” by the U.S. and the other mediators, Israeli officials told the Axios news outlet at the time.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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