CIA Director Burns to Try Reviving Cease-Fire and Hostage Negotiations in Europe

William J. Burns, the C.I.A. director who has been the lead American negotiator in efforts for a cease-fire in Gaza, plans to travel to Europe this weekend for talks with his Israeli counterpart to try to revive the stalled discussions over a pause in the fighting and the release of hostages, according to a U.S. official and another person briefed on the negotiations.

This month, frustration boiled over between officials from Hamas and Israel, and the countries mediating — the United States, Qatar and Egypt — put the talks on hold.

Israeli officials were upset with what they saw as shifting negotiating stances by Hamas, including the number of hostages to be released in a first phase. Hamas was upset by Israel’s operations in Rafah, the southern Gazan city, which have been progressing since.

But core to the dispute were disagreements over how to define a cessation of hostilities between Hamas and Israel, and how different stages of the cease-fire would be put into effect.

The resumption of talks, at an undisclosed location in Europe, is expected to take place over the next few days. It is not clear if Egyptian and Qatari negotiators will join Mr. Burns and David Barnea, the chief of the Mossad, Israel’s spy agency, to directly take part in the discussions.

Mr. Burns, however, has been in close contact with Egyptian and Qatari negotiators as the mediators look to get the talks back on track, said a U.S. official.

In early May, Mr. Burns did shuttle diplomacy between Egypt and Israel trying to push for the first phase of an agreement to begin, including a staggered process for the release of hostages and a temporary halt in fighting.

The talks in the coming days are expected to be the first since that round of negotiations ended. While it is unclear what could be achieved with Mr. Burns’s new discussions, restarting the talks is, at this point, a notable development.

U.S. officials say a hostage-for-cease-fire agreement has to be reached for all their other diplomatic efforts to get momentum, including discussions of a postwar administration in Gaza and a megadeal for a Palestinian state that the Americans and Saudis want Israel to agree to.

But Israeli military operations in Rafah continue to complicate the picture. The more aggressive the Israeli operations there, the less Hamas wants to negotiate.

Some American officials have said Israel is taking their advice on how to mitigate some civilian casualties — which has contributed to an erosion of international support for Israel with over 35,000 people dead, according to the Gazan health authorities.

On Wednesday, Jake Sullivan, the U.S. national security adviser, said he was optimistic that Israel, so far, was not conducting the kind of major operation in Rafah that the United States had feared it would. But questions remain about exactly what the Israeli intentions for Rafah over the longer term might be.

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