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Mossad, CIA chiefs to return to Qatar to continue Gaza talks

After a visit to Doha earlier this week, Mossad chief David Barnea is expected to return to Qatar Friday to pursue talks for a hostage release and cease-fire deal.
COHEN-MAGEN/AFP via Getty Images

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has authorized Mossad chief David Barnea to travel to Qatar Friday and meet with CIA chief William Burns, Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman Al Thani and Egyptian intelligence chief Abbas Kamel to advance the hostage-release deal, according to Netanyahu’s office. 

Israel’s N12 news outlet reported that Barnea met with Netanyahu Thursday, updating him on developments in the negotiations toward a deal. 

Barnea had traveled to Doha Monday evening for a few hours of indirect negotiations with Hamas to advance an agreement that could see the release of hostages held in the Gaza Strip in exchange for a prolonged six-week cease-fire there and the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners held in Israel. The deal might also include enabling displaced residents of the northern Strip to return home.

While Barnea came back to Israel to brief the security cabinet, his associates stayed in Doha to continue negotiations, mainly on technical points. Israel has declined to say where exactly the talks stand. 

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday that the “gaps are narrowing” between Israel and Hamas on a deal. Blinken made that statement while in Saudi Arabia, the first stop on a regional tour that also includes Egypt and Israel. The top US diplomat is set to arrive in Israel on Friday for a short visit.