Israeli, U.S. Officials Meet Qatari PM to Discuss Truce

By Yoni Weiss

Qatar’s Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani. (REUTERS/Imad Creidi)

CIA Director Bill Burns is scheduled to meet with Mossad Director David Barnea and Qatar’s Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani in Doha on Tuesday to explore the potential for a second extension in the Gaza ceasefire. This meeting, confirmed by a U.S. official and two well-informed sources, intends to discuss the conditions necessary for this extension, primarily focusing on the release of additional hostages by Hamas.

This marks the second occasion that these three leaders will meet since the initiation of Hamas hostilities on Oct. 7. It follows an agreement between Israel and Hamas to extend the ceasefire in Gaza for an additional two days, with the release of another 20 Israeli hostages.

Should the agreement be upheld, the pause in hostilities will continue until Wednesday, resulting in the release of 92 hostages out of the 240 individuals initially taken captive by the terror group and its allies. Israel pledged to release an additional 60 Palestinian prisoners, in addition to the 150 released as part of the original deal.

During this meeting, Burns intends to advocate for further hostage negotiations with Barnea and al-Thani. The discussion will encompass a broader analysis of the ongoing conflict in Gaza.

In recent weeks, these three figures have played pivotal roles in the hostage negotiations. Notably, neither Israel nor the U.S. have engaged in direct negotiations with Hamas; instead, Qatar acted as an intermediary, communicating with the terror group.

Israeli authorities revealed that during the recent hostage releases, Burns and his team maintained constant communication with the joint Israeli-Qatari “situation room” located at the Mossad’s headquarters in Tel Aviv. Burns also collaborated closely with Egypt’s Director of Intelligence Abbas Kamel, particularly during a critical moment on Saturday when concerns arose regarding a potential breakdown of the initial hostage agreement due to Hamas delaying the release of several hostages.

According to Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby, U.S. officials estimate that seven to nine Americans remain among those still held hostage.

On Nov. 9, Burns initiated his trip to Doha and engaged in discussions with Sheikh Mohammed and Barnea in an attempt to resolve a critical impasse: Hamas had not yet disclosed the identities of the individuals in their custody.

Subsequent diplomatic efforts took approximately two more weeks to solidify the initial agreement for the release of 50 hostages in exchange for a four-day ceasefire. It required an additional four days to finalize the extended agreement for the release of 20 more hostages, according to officials involved in the negotiations.

So far, there is no indication that Hamas is willing to release any Israeli men or IDF personnel among those taken captive.

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