Skip to main content

Netanyahu isolated, threatened by Gaza deal on eve of Mossad-CIA-Qatar talks

With American, Egyptian, Israeli and Qatari officials closer to a deal, Netanyahu may soon have to choose between the hostages in Gaza and the hard-liners holding him hostage.
LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 24: Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu leaves 10, Downing Street after meeting Britain's Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, on March 24, 2023 in London, England. Benjamin Netanyahu visits London against a backdrop of unrest at home. Protest are being held weekly across Israel against legislation neing pushed through the Knesset by his government to restain the judiciary. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)
Read in 

TEL AVIV — Reports indicate that talks on a deal to release the 136 hostages held in Gaza are advancing, with a potentially decisive meeting set for this weekend in Europe.

Leading the effort are three intelligence chiefs and a prime minister: CIA Director William Burns, Mossad Director David Barnea, Egyptian Intelligence Director Abbas Kamel and Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed Al Thani. Missing from the impressive lineup is Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has no political or personal interest in such a deal. 

Netanyahu knows full well that acceding to the key Hamas demand of ending or indefinitely pausing the war in Gaza in return for freeing the captives will spell the collapse of his government. National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, the hardline nationalist pulling many of Netanyahu’s strings, has already said as much. Netanyahu is therefore doing what he does best — playing a double game, appearing to promote a deal with one hand while doing all he can to sink it with the other.

At the meeting in Europe, Burns, Barnea, Kamel and Sheikh Mohammed hope to iron out the remaining details of a proposed package, following up on significant progress reportedly made in negotiations over recent weeks. Israel is reportedly now offering a two-month lull in the fighting in exchange for the release of the hostages in several phases over a month-long period. According to the proposal, Israel would allow increased humanitarian aid into Gaza and consider letting Yahya Sinwar and other top Hamas leaders leave the enclave and go into exile.

Access the Middle East news and analysis you can trust

Join our community of Middle East readers to experience all of Al-Monitor, including 24/7 news, analyses, memos, reports and newsletters.


Only $100 per year.