CIA chief pushes for Gaza cease-fire deal in Egypt

Israeli spy chief to attend Cairo hostage talks, source says

TEL AVIV — David Barnea, the director of Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency, will attend hostage negotiation talks in Cairo today along with CIA director Bill Burns and other Middle Eastern officials, an Israeli official told NBC News.

It had previously been unclear whether Israel would send a high-level delegation to the talks after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last week rejected a Hamas counter-proposal that called for an end to the war as “delusional.”

“We’re going to Cairo to see if there’s a chance to get a deal but I can’t tell you anyone on the Israeli side is optimistic,” the official said. 

The last high-level talks took place in late January in Paris. The CIA director and officials from Qatar, Israel, and Egypt were present but no representatives from Hamas were at the table. That meeting led to a framework agreement that proposed a temporary pause in the fighting in return for the release of some hostages.

Hamas responded to that framework last week during Secretary Antony Blinken’s trip to the Middle East. In its response, the militant group called for an end to the war and the withdrawal of all Israeli troops from Gaza. 

“We thought there was a formula, not a binding agreement, but a formula that was agreed in Paris,” the Israeli official said. “Then what Hamas sent back was just a revision of some hardline positions and totally divorced from what was negotiated in Paris.”

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