Updated May 25, 2024 - World

U.S. and Israeli officials see progress on resuming hostage talks

Bill Burns

Burns. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

A meeting in Paris on Friday between CIA director Bill Burns, the director of Israel's Mossad and Qatar's prime minister made progress toward the possible resumption of Gaza hostage negotiations, U.S. and Israeli officials said.

Why it matters: Indirect negotiations between Israel and Hamas over a possible hostage deal that could lead to a temporary ceasefire reached a deadlock two weeks ago after several days of talks in Cairo and Doha.

  • President Biden, Burns, national security adviser Jake Sullivan and other senior U.S. officials have been personally involved in the efforts to reach a deal to release the hostages taken by Hamas when it attacked Israel on Oct. 7.
  • The White House sees a hostage deal as the only viable path to a ceasefire and the potential end to a war that has become a political problem for Biden ahead of the presidential election.

Driving the news: A senior Israeli official told reporters on Saturday that Mossad director David Barnea discussed "building an infrastructure designed to allow renewed negotiations for the release of the hostages" with Burns and Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed Bin Abdul Rahman al-Thani.

  • Barnea presented the main points of the updated Israeli position, but did not give the Qatari prime minister a written and official Israeli proposal to send Hamas, a source briefed on the meeting told Axios.
  • "At the end of the meeting, it was decided that within the next week negotiations will be resumed on the basis of new proposals, led by the Egyptian and Qatari mediators and with the active involvement of the U.S.," the Israeli official said.

Between the lines: U.S. officials were more nuanced about the results of the Paris meeting.

  • They acknowledged progress was made and said the possible resumption of negotiations was discussed, but made clear that no date for a new round of negotiations has been set.

What they're saying: "There is progress. Contacts are ongoing and we are working closely with Egyptian and Qatari mediators. These contacts will continue through the coming week as we seek to move the negotiating process forward," a senior U.S. official told Axios.

The other side: A Hamas official pushed back on the optimism and told Axios the group will not resume the hostage deal negotiations as long as Israel continues the war in Gaza.

What to watch: Qatari officials will meet Hamas officials in Doha later this week to discuss the possibility of resuming hostage negotiations, sources with knowledge of the issue said.

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