Home News UN top court expected to rule on Israeli attack on Rafah

UN top court expected to rule on Israeli attack on Rafah

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In March, William J. Burns, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, said he planned to travel to Europe for talks with Israel’s foreign minister in an effort to restart ceasefire negotiations.Credit…Kent Nishimura of The New York Times

CIA Director William Burns, who has been the lead U.S. negotiator for a ceasefire in Gaza, plans to travel to Europe this weekend for talks with Israel’s foreign minister in an attempt to restart stalled negotiations over a pause in fighting and the release of hostages, according to a U.S. official and another person briefed on the talks.

A bitter row broke out between Hamas and Israeli officials this month, and the mediating countries – the United States, Qatar and Egypt – suspended the talks.

Israeli officials were unhappy with Hamas’ shifting negotiating stance, including the number of hostages released in the first phase. Hamas was unhappy with Israel’s actions in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, which Always improving since.

But the heart of the dispute is how to define the cessation of hostilities between Hamas and Israel, and how to implement the different phases of the ceasefire.

The talks are expected to resume in the coming days at an undisclosed location in Europe. It was not immediately clear whether Egyptian and Qatari negotiators would take part directly in the talks alongside Burns and David Banea, the head of Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency.

However, a U.S. official said Burns had been in close contact with Egyptian and Qatari negotiators and that the mediator hoped to get the talks back on track.

In early May, Mr. Burns did engage in shuttle diplomacy Egypt and Israel are trying to push for a first-phase deal that would include a phased release of hostages and a temporary halt to fighting.

The talks expected in the coming days will be the first since that round ended. While it is unclear what Mr. Burns’ new negotiations will achieve, the restart of the talks is a noteworthy development for now.

U.S. officials say a deal to exchange a ceasefire for hostages is necessary to advance all other diplomatic efforts by both sides, including discussions on a post-war government in Gaza and a grand deal to create a Palestinian state that the United States and Saudi Arabia want Israel to agree to.

But Israel’s military operations in Rafah continue to complicate the situation. The more aggressive Israel’s actions there are, the less willing Hamas will be to negotiate.

Some U.S. officials say Israel is listening to their advice on how to reduce civilian casualties, which Gaza health authorities say has led to a decline in international support for Israel in a war that has killed more than 35,000 people.

On Wednesday, U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said he was optimistic that Israel had so far not carried out the kind of large-scale operations in Rafah that the United States feared. But questions remain about exactly what Israel’s long-term intentions are with respect to Rafah.

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