A long-term cease-fire would likely require both sides to make hard-to-swallow concessions
DOHA, Qatar—The chief brokers of the Israel-Hamas hostage-prisoner exchange are pushing the two sides to prolong the cease-fire in Gaza through the end of the week and start talks on a permanent truce that would end the war altogether, said Egyptian and Qatari officials.
A long-term cease-fire would likely require Israel and Hamas to make hard-to-swallow concessions, such as trading Israeli soldiers for potentially thousands of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, the officials said. And it would require Israel to hold back on an offensive in southern Gaza intended to capture the strip and kill Hamas’s top leadership, the officials said.
But the officials said that the current temporary truce was building the sort of trust needed to move ahead.
“We are working to strengthen the Qatari mediation role in reaching a truce and then a permanent cease-fire,” Qatari Foreign Ministry spokesman Majed al-Ansari said Tuesday.
In a sign of the seriousness of the talks, Central Intelligence Agency Director William Burns arrived in Qatar on Tuesday, said a U.S. official and a person familiar with the matter. He is set to attend talks that are also expected to include David Barnea, chief of Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency, and senior officials from Qatar, which has close ties to Hamas’s political leadership.
Burns’s and Barnea’s trips to Doha are among multiple visits both have made to Qatar, highlighting the extensive behind-the-scenes role U.S., Israeli and Arab intelligence services are playing in the Gaza diplomacy. Egyptian intelligence services are also playing a key part in speaking to Hamas leaders inside Gaza.
Discussions are initially centered on extending the cease-fire by a further three days in exchange for 10 hostages on each day.
But Qatari and Egyptian mediators have been pressing for a longer pause to the fighting, in the hope it will evolve into a permanent cease-fire, senior Egyptian officials said.