update deskIsrael at War

Israeli War Cabinet votes to dispatch team for Paris hostage talks

Mossad director David Barnea will head the Israeli delegation.

Israelis call on the government to free the hostages in Gaza, outside the Kirya military headquarters in Tel Aviv, Feb. 11, 2024. Photo by Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90.
Israelis call on the government to free the hostages in Gaza, outside the Kirya military headquarters in Tel Aviv, Feb. 11, 2024. Photo by Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90.

Israel’s War Cabinet reportedly voted unanimously on Thursday night to dispatch a team to Paris for hostage negotiations.

The meetings will take place on Friday and Saturday, building on last month’s initial gathering in the French capital as well as intermittent talks in Cairo aimed at realizing a proposal to free the remaining 134 Israeli captives in exchange for an extended pause in the war.

According to reports, heading to Paris are the same players from the Jan. 28 summit and who met in Cairo on Feb. 13—David Barnea, director of Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency; CIA director Bill Burns; head of Egyptian intelligence Maj. Gen. Abbas Kamel; and Qatari Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani.

The decision to send the delegation comes after France confirmed on Wednesday that 45 Israeli hostages have received urgent medications that entered the enclave over a month ago in a deal brokered by Paris and Doha.

Last week, U.S. President Joe Biden demanded a temporary ceasefire to secure the release of hostages in Gaza, claiming that the deal “has to” go through before Israel launches a military operation in Rafah.

“There has to be a temporary ceasefire to get the prisoners out—to get the hostages out,” Biden said. “I’m hoping that the Israelis will not make any massive land invasion in the meantime. It’s my expectation that’s not going to happen.”

The president added that he had multiple, nearly hour-long conversations with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu conveying that message in recent days.

On Tuesday, Netanyahu vowed to not cave to international pressure demanding a ceasefire in the war.

“There is considerable pressure on Israel at home and abroad to stop the war before we achieve all of its goals, including a deal at any price to free the hostages,” he said.

“We very much want to achieve another release and we are prepared to go far but we are not prepared to pay any price, certainly not the delusional prices that Hamas is demanding of us, the meaning of which is the defeat of the State of Israel,” added the prime minister.

Earlier this month, Hamas rejected a hostage deal that would have included a two-month ceasefire. Israel rejected Hamas’s counterproposal, which called for the release of additional terrorists from Israeli prisons and a withdrawal of IDF forces from Gaza.

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