Jun 4, 2024 - World

Scoop: CIA director, Biden adviser head to Mideast to push for hostage-ceasefire deal

CIA director Bill Burns in a dark suit, white shirt, dark tie

CIA Director Bill Burns speaks in Washington on May 21. Photo: Saul Loeb / AFP via Getty Images

CIA director Bill Burns and Brett McGurk, President Biden's top Middle East adviser, are traveling to the Middle East to push for a Gaza hostage and ceasefire deal, according to a U.S. official and two other sources with direct knowledge of the matter.

Why it matters: The trip is part of a full-court press by the Biden administration to get a breakthrough toward a deal, the sources said.

  • It comes as Israel has conducted new attacks near the al-Bureij refugee camp in Gaza.
  • The U.S. officials' trip follows Biden's speech last Friday in which he laid out Israel's proposal for a deal that would lead to the release of hostages held by Hamas and a ceasefire in Gaza.

The latest: White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan met on Tuesday with families of American hostages held by Hamas in Gaza, according to two sources with knowledge of the meeting.

  • Sullivan told the family members that the Biden administration is using all its tools to put pressure on Hamas to accept the deal presented by Biden during his speech, the sources said.
  • Qatari foreign ministry spokesman Majed al-Ansari said in a statement on Tuesday that Qatar received an Israeli proposal for a hostage deal "that reflects the principles laid out in President Biden's speech" and delivered it to Hamas.
  • U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud on Tuesday and reiterated that Hamas "should take the deal without further delay," State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said.
  • White House spokesman John Kirby said in a briefing with reporters on Tuesday that the proposal was delivered to Hamas last Thursday, before Biden's speech.

Senior Hamas official Osama Hamdan told al-Jazeera that Israel's positions regarding the hostage deal are not in line with Biden's speech.

  • He claimed Israel's proposal doesn't address Hamas' demand for ending the war and the full withdrawal of Israel Defense Forces from Gaza. He said Israel only wants to implement the first stage on the deal in order to release some hostages and then resume the war.
  • "Without a clear Israeli position about ending the war and withdrawing from Gaza there will not be an agreement," he said.

What to watch: Burns is expected to arrive in Doha on Tuesday. McGurk will arrive in Cairo on Wednesday.

  • Qatar and Egypt are the two key mediators in the indirect talks between Israel and Hamas.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with comments from the White House, State Department, Qatar's foreign ministry and a Hamas official.

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