The leaders of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and Israel‘s Mossad met Qatar’s prime minister in Doha on Tuesday to build on the two-day extension of a truce between Israel and the Palestinian terror group Hamas, a source briefed on the visit said.
The meeting was “to build on the progress of the extended humanitarian pause agreement and to initiate further discussions about the next phase of a potential deal,” the source told Reuters.
The outcome of the talks, which were also attended by Egyptian officials, was unclear, the source added.
CIA Director William Burns was in Doha “for meetings on the Israel-Hamas conflict including discussions on hostages,” a US official said on condition of anonymity. The official did not elaborate.
Burns, David Barnea, head of Israel‘s Mossad intelligence service, and Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman al-Thani met one day after Qatar announced the two-day extension of an original four-day truce deal in Gaza that had been due to expire overnight.
Qatar, where several political leaders of Hamas are based, has been leading negotiations between the Palestinian terrorist group and Israel.
The truce has brought the first respite to the Gaza Strip in seven weeks during which the Israeli military responded to a violent rampage on Oct. 7 by Hamas gunmen who killed around 1,200 people and took 240 captives.
Israel has sworn to annihilate Hamas, which rules Gaza. Hamas-controlled health authorities in Gaza say Israel‘s military campaign has killed thousands of people, although experts have cast doubt on the reliability of figures coming out of the Palestinian enclave.
Barnea and Burns were previously in Qatar to meet Sheikh Mohammed on Nov 9.
During the first four days of the truce, Hamas fighters released 50 Israeli women and children who had been taken hostage. In return, Israel released 150 security detainees from its jails, all women and teenagers.
As part of the two-day truce extension Hamas has agreed to release an additional 10 Israeli women and children each day.
So far, there is no indication that Hamas is willing to release any Israeli men or military personnel among those taken captive.
The post Israeli, US Spy Chiefs Meet Qatari PM to Discuss ‘Building on’ Gaza Truce: Source first appeared on Algemeiner.com.
Top IDF Brass Blindsided by UNRWA Fallout
i24 News – Senior Israel Defense Forces (IDF) command was caught off guard by the speed with which the allegations implicating UNRWA staffers in the October 7 atrocities became public knowledge, according to a New York Times report published Saturday.
When, on January 18, UNRWA head Philippe Lazzarini sat down with senior Israeli diplomat Amir Weissbrod in Tel Aviv for a routine meeting, the UN official was supplied with intelligence about the agency employees’ involvement in the massacre.
While the intelligence was provided by the IDF, the military establishment didn’t expect the explosive information to leak into the public domain. It emerged that Lazzarini relayed the allegations to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and began firing employees, eventually reporting the developments to U.S. officials.
Unnamed IDF officials cited in the NYT report were concerned that the allegations had been disseminated without Israel having devised a proper strategy for the fallout.
European countries, from the UK to Germany, as well as the United States, Canada and Australia all froze funding to UNRWA amid reviews in the aid agency and its employees.
While some have pushed for a complete shutdown of the agency, including U.S. lawmakers and Israeli ministers, others — including unnamed senior IDF officials — have said that it was inadvisable to do so during the war when UNRWA was providing needed humanitarian aid.
Hamas Turns Down Hostage Deal, Demands Israel Release More Terrorists
i24 News – Hamas on Sunday said it rejected the proposed hostage deal formulated in Paris, demanding that Israel release more Palestinian terrorists locked up in Israeli jails, according to a Saudi outlet.
There are 136 hostages held in Gaza by Hamas and other Palestinian jihadists, abducted during the October 7 incursion and massacre.
The statement comes hours after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reiterated Israel had “red lines” which could not be crossed.
Thus, the leader said, Israel will not end the war until all its goals are met, namely “the eradication of Hamas, the rescue of all our hostages, and ensuring that Gaza will never again pose a threat to Israel.”
“We will not agree to every deal, and not at any price,” he said, adding reports in the local media whereby Israel agreed to freeing large numbers of terrorists were not true.
The post Hamas Turns Down Hostage Deal, Demands Israel Release More Terrorists first appeared on Algemeiner.com.
Dennis Ross Is Blaming Israel Again
JNS.org – Former U.S. Middle East envoy Dennis Ross just can’t stop blaming Israel.
Speaking via Zoom for the Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism & Policy on Jan. 31, Ross offered some expected, perfunctory criticism of Hamas, Iran and Hezbollah. But again and again, he managed to bring in one-sided and unfair criticism of Israel.
Referring to Israel’s counter-terrorism actions in Judea and Samaria, Ross said: “West Bank violence [by Arabs] is not disconnected from Israel’s policies in the West Bank.”
That’s just absurd. The terrorists are not responding to Israeli policies. They were murdering Jews long before there were any settlements or so-called occupied territories. They oppose Israel’s existence, not its borders. It’s these terrorists who are the aggressors, and Israelis must respond to them.
Regarding Gaza, Ross said: “The Israelis haven’t done everything they could to spare civilians in Gaza.” Is he kidding? The Israelis have refrained from striking terrorist targets where there are civilians. They have personally warned civilians to evacuate, again and again, through leaflets and phone calls and public announcements. They have risked the lives of their own soldiers by going house to house, instead of just bombing from the air. What else can they possibly do?
Ross also commented on the recent ruling by the International Court of Justice—the ruling that failed to condemn Hamas and demanded that Israel give more aid to Palestinians in Gaza. He said the ruling was “not irresponsible” and that it was provoked by “extreme statements by Israeli politicians.” That’s simply nonsense. The statement that the court cited most prominently was made by Israel’s left-leaning president, Isaac Herzog, who said that many ordinary Gazans supported the Hamas massacre, which was a perfectly reasonable statement of fact.
The practice of saying a few perfunctory crucial words about terrorists and then “balancing” it with criticism of Israel is typical of the grotesque “even-handedness” that Ross and his colleagues pushed during his many years at the U.S. State Department.
That approach was wrong then, and it’s wrong now. There can be no “balance” between good and evil. Israel and the Palestinian Authority are not on the same moral level. Israel is America’s loyal, reliable, democratic ally. The P.A. is a terror-sponsoring, hate-mongering dictatorship.
In recent months, Ross has been saying that Israel should allow the Hamas leadership to leave Gaza in exchange for the release of the remaining hostages. He points to Israel’s decision in 1982, under U.S. pressure, to allow PLO chief Yasser Arafat and thousands of PLO terrorists to leave besieged Beirut.
But Ross never mentions what happened after Arafat left. He didn’t retire. He set up PLO terrorist headquarters in Tunisia, and then 20 additional years of terrorism followed—suicide bombings, intifadas, mass shootings, stabbings. Ross’s new plan would have the same result.
This is the same Dennis Ross who has acknowledged—on the op-ed page of The Washington Post in 2014—that he pressured Israel to allow Hamas to import concrete. Ross wrote that the Israelis opposed his demand because they feared that Hamas would use the cement to build terror tunnels. Ross insisted the concrete would be used to build houses, and because of his pressure, the Israelis gave in. We all know the result.
In his Zoom talk this week, Ross had the chutzpah to mention that Hamas used imported cement to build tunnels instead of homes, though never mentioned that he was the one who helped them to get that cement into Gaza in the first place.
Ross is frequently quoted in The New York Times and invited to appear on television shows and webinars. He’s treated as if his past involvement in Mideast diplomacy makes him an expert on how to make peace today. Yet every one of those diplomatic efforts failed. He has never facilitated real peace because he continues to pretend that both sides are to blame for the absence of peace.
The Jewish world is full of talented speakers, thinkers and writers. Surely, our institutions should be able to find more thoughtful lecturers than those same tired, old critics of Israel with their familiar and disastrous proposals.