Gaza ceasefire deal possible despite very tough process: CIA


DOHA: CIA Director Bill Burns on Tuesday offered a small measure of hope for progress in the indirect nego­tiations between Hamas and Israel over a potential ceasefire deal. There is “still the possibility” of such a deal, Burns said, but it is “a very tough process.”

“I don’t think anyone can guarantee success. The only thing I think you can guarantee is that the al­ternatives are worse,” Burns said during congres­sional testimony. “They’re worse for innocent ci­vilians who are suffering in Gaza. They’re worse for the hostages and their families. And I think they’re worse for all of us.”

Burns has been a lead negotiator for the US side, as the United States, Qatar and Egypt have worked to broker a deal that would exchange the release of Hamas-held hostages for a pause in the fighting.

Israel and Palestinian group are not close to a deal to halt the fighting in Gaza and free hostages, mediator Qatar said on Tuesday, warning that the situation remained “very complicated”.

Despite weeks of talks involving US, Qatari and Egyptian mediators, the Muslim holy month of Ra­madan began on Monday without the start of a truce and hostage exchange they had aimed for.

“We are not near a deal, meaning that we are not seeing both sides converging on language that can resolve the current disagreement over the imple­mentation of a deal,” said foreign ministry spokes­man Majed al-Ansari. All parties were “continuing to work in the negotiations to reach a deal hope­fully within the confines of Ramadan”, Ansari told a news conference. But he added that he could not “offer any timeline” on an agreement while the con­flict remained “very complicated on the ground”.

The war started with the October 7 attack that resulted in about 1,160 deaths in Israel, according to an AFP count based on Israeli official figures.

Israel’s retaliatory bombardment and ground offensive have killed 31,112 Palestinians, mostly women and children, according to Gaza’s health ministry. Qatar previously mediated a one-week break in fighting in late November that led to the release of scores of Israeli and foreign hos­tages, as well as aid entering the besieged Pales­tinian territory.

Ansari was asked whether Qatar had exerted pressure on Palestinian group , which has its polit­ical office in Doha, in efforts to reach a truce.

“As a mediator that has been exchanging views between both sides, I don’t think it is useful to use such terminology (of) pressure or using leverage,” he said. But he said Qatar was “certainly using ev­erything that we have in our capabilities to push both sides to an agreement”.__The Nation