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CIA's Burns Offers Israel a Phony Peace: How U.S. Negotiations with Netanyahu Fail

CIA Director Nicholas Burns. Credit: CIA

CIA Director William Burns, who has been in Cairo for days of negotiations, traveled to Israel yesterday and met with Prime Minister Netanyahu and government leaders. Apparently, the failure of those meetings took place just prior to President Biden’s announcement threatening to withhold weaponry. Burns evidently tried to soft-sell Netanyahu that they should not fear an end of the war, as they could always restart any hostilities that they wanted to. According to Israel’s Channel 12 news, Burns told his hosts that Israel should not regard the “end of war” as a “full stop,” but rather as a “comma.” And following the comma could be a process leading to normalization between Israel and Saudi Arabia. (Assumedly, the initiation of new hostilities after that could be directed against Iran and the Islamic Shi’a world.) Unfortunately for his scheme, his audience had little patience for such sophisticated matters.

In talks attended by Netanyahu, Defense Minister Gallant, Mossad chief David Barnea, and Shin Bet head Ronen Bar, Israel responded that Hamas’s proposal “crosses all red lines in every parameter and is unacceptable,” the Channel 12 network said. Further, it was thrown in Burns’s face that, as Channel 12 reported, “Hamas’s Gaza chief Yahya Sinwar was pleased to see the U.S. withholding weaponry from Israel and that this move further complicated the prospects for a deal.” The only indication that a full-scale invasion of Rafah might not happen is Channel 12’s report that War Cabinet Minister Benny Gantz, and his National Unity party colleague and war cabinet observer Gadi Eisenkot, were demanding that the cabinet take “strategic decisions” for the day after in Gaza before any widening of IDF operations in Rafah or elsewhere in the Gaza Strip.

Otherwise, in Cairo, delegations from Hamas, Israel, the U.S., Egypt, and Qatar continued meeting on May 7-8. Citing a source familiar with the matter, Egypt’s state-affiliated Al Qahera TV said this morning that areas of disagreement were being resolved and there were signs a deal would be reached. U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said: “The two sides are close enough they should do what they can to get to a deal.” However, Izzat El-Reshiq, from the Hamas political office in Qatar, said late last night, that “Israel isn’t serious about reaching an agreement, and it is using the negotiation as a cover to invade Rafah and occupy the crossing.”

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