CIA Director Visits Qatar To Discuss Hostage Situation With Israeli And Egyptian Counterparts



Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director William Burns testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee on March 10, 2022 in Washington, DC. The committee held a hearing on worldwide threats. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

Elizabeth Volberding
4:40 PM – Tuesday, November 28, 2023

CIA Director William Burns has traveled to Qatar to meet with intelligence officials in the Middle East to negotiate the release of hostages who are still detained in Gaza since the October 7th attack.

On Tuesday, Burns returned to Qatar to have discussions with intelligence counterparts from Israel and Egypt as well as the Qatari prime minister. They are scheduled to talk on an existing agreement in which dozens of hostages were released over a four-day halt of the warfare. 

“Director Burns traveled to Doha for meetings about the ongoing Israel-Hamas war, including continued discussions on the hostages,” a United States official said.

Another official stated that the CIA director would be meeting in Doha with the director of Israel’s intelligence agency Mossad, David Barnea, and Abbas Kamel, the Director of Egyptian General Intelligence.

Burns’ trip to Qatar comes after the truce was lengthened by two days.

In addition to abducted male and female Israeli soldiers, he is currently pushing for the negotiation talks to include male civilians who are being held captive as well. This would entail extending the current six-day temporary pause.

Israeli officials have stated that returning Israeli soldiers and men back home will come at a greater cost. As of right now, for each hostage that Hamas frees, three Palestinian prisoners are also released in exchange.

Burns also called for Hamas to release nine American hostages as soon as possible.

Representatives from Qatar declared on Monday that the two-day temporary cease-fire had been extended in order to enable the release of more hostages and an easier entry for more humanitarian supplies into Gaza. 

As a key player in the Biden administration’s attempt to persuade Hamas to release its hostages, Burns has maintained constant communication with David Barnea, the Israelis’ designated spokesperson for hostage negotiations.

Burns met with Barnea and Qatari officials on November 9th in Doha to discuss the “emerging arrangement,” according to a senior U.S. administration official. 

A week and a half later, as final touches were being made to the deal that would allow for the release of at least 50 hostages over the course of four days, Burns was asked to attend another meeting in Doha, which was presided over by Brett McGurk, the White House’s top Middle East adviser.

The most recent releases marked the fourth and final phase of the agreement between Israel and Hamas to release 50 hostages in return for a four-day pause in the war.

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