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Netanyahu nixes Mossad chief’s Doha trip—report

The move comes amid reports that Israel is interested in renewing talks on another hostage-for-ceasefire deal.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu talks with Mossad Director David Barnea at the Kirya military headquarters in Tel Aviv, Oct. 15, 2023. Photo by Kobi Gideon/GPO.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu talks with Mossad Director David Barnea at the Kirya military headquarters in Tel Aviv, Oct. 15, 2023. Photo by Kobi Gideon/GPO.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected a request by Mossad chief David Barnea to travel to Doha to promote another hostage release deal, Channel 13 reported on Wednesday.

According to the report, Barnea offered to fly to the Qatari capital with Maj. Gen. Nitzan Alon, the IDF’s point man for hostage negotiations.

Barnea and Alon were instructed to “listen” to any Qatari proposals, but the visit was reportedly nixed by Netanyahu.

Cabinet officials are interested in renewing a ceasefire-for-hostages deal, and in recent days War Cabinet minister Benny Gantz has adopted the idea that “Israel needs to look for an opportunity for a deal.” 

The organization representing families of the abductees said in response to the report: “The families were shocked by the report of the rejection of the request of the head of the Mossad to draw up an agreement for the release of the abductees.”

Israel has expressed to Egypt a desire to renew negotiations on another pause in fighting for a prisoner exchange with Hamas, the Qatari-owned newspaper Al-Arabi Al-Jadid reported on Thursday.

Egyptian sources said that Cairo had received communications from the Israeli side about a hostage release deal similar to the one that took place from Nov. 24 to early Dec. 1, in which the terror group released 105 Israelis and foreign nationals from captivity in Gaza, according to the report.

It is estimated that 138 hostages, including 11 foreign nationals, kidnapped by Hamas during the Oct. 7 massacre are still being held in Gaza. Twenty of the hostages are believed to have been killed in captivity.

However, the head of the Hamas political department in Gaza, Bassem Naim, denied any new negotiations were taking place and said that the terror group rejects any talks about prisoners before a ceasefire, according to the report.

Hamas politburo chief Ismail Haniyeh said in a televised address on Wednesday that he is open to talks on ending the war, but that post-war plans for Gaza that don’t include Hamas and other terror factions “is a delusion,” the Times of Israel reported.

An Egyptian source told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that “a call took place last Sunday evening between the head of the Egyptian General Intelligence Service, Maj. General Abbas Kamel, and the head of the Mossad, David Barnea, during which they discussed developments in the situation in the Gaza Strip.”

The source added, “The head of the Mossad clearly informed the Egyptian side of the development of the negotiating situation, and that the Israeli government has become open to the possibility of entering into negotiations aimed at liberating prisoners held by the Hamas movement in the Gaza Strip, according to amended conditions.”

Israel had encountered a “harsh response from some mediation parties,” the source said, adding that Qatari officials are coordinating with Egypt “after dissatisfaction with the way Israel dealt with it during the last days’ negotiations in the previous truce.”

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