CIA Director Burns attempts to revive ceasefire and hostage negotiations in Europe

William J. Burns, the CIA director who has been the chief American negotiator in efforts for a ceasefire in Gaza, plans to travel to Europe this weekend for talks with his Israeli counterpart to try to revive ongoing discussions deadlocked because of a lull in fighting and the release of hostages, according to a U.S. official and another person briefed on the negotiations.

This month, frustration boiled over between Hamas and Israeli officials, and the mediating countries – the United States, Qatar and Egypt – suspended talks.

Israeli officials were shocked by what they saw as a change in Hamas' negotiating positions, including the number of hostages to be released in the first phase. Hamas was shocked by Israeli operations in Rafah, Gaza's southern city, which have continued to progress ever since.

But at the heart of the dispute were disagreements over how to define the cessation of hostilities between Hamas and Israel and how different stages of the ceasefire would be implemented.

The resumption of talks, in an undisclosed European location, is expected to take place in the coming days. It is unclear whether the Egyptian and Qatari negotiators will join Burns and David Barnea, the head of the Mossad, Israel's spy agency, to take part directly in the discussions.

Burns, however, has been in close contact with Egyptian and Qatari negotiators as mediators try to get talks back on track, a U.S. official said.

In early May, Burns shuttled diplomatically between Egypt and Israel trying to push for the start of the first phase of a deal, including a staggered trial for the release of hostages and a temporary halt in fighting.

The talks in the next few days are expected to be the first since the conclusion of the round of negotiations. While it is unclear what could be achieved with Burns' new discussions, the resumption of talks is, at this point, a notable development.

U.S. officials say reaching a ceasefire agreement is necessary for all other diplomatic efforts to gain momentum, including discussions on a post-war administration in Gaza and a mega-deal for a Palestinian state that the Americans and Saudis want Israel to you approve. TO.

But Israeli military operations in Rafah continue to complicate the picture. The more aggressive Israeli operations, the less Hamas will want to negotiate.

Some American officials have said Israel is following their advice on how to mitigate some civilian casualties, which has helped erode international support for Israel with more than 35,000 deaths, according to Gaza health authorities.

On Wednesday, Jake Sullivan, the US national security adviser, said he was optimistic that Israel, so far, was not conducting the kind of major operation in Rafah that the US had feared. But questions remain about exactly what Israel's intentions for Rafah might be in the long term.

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