Biden Urges Egypt and Qatar to Push Hamas on a Hostage and Cease-Fire Deal


President Biden sent messages to the leaders of Egypt and Qatar urging them to increase pressure on Hamas to make a deal with Israel that would result in a temporary cease-fire in Gaza and the release of hostages held there, a senior administration official said on Friday.

The messages to President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt and Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, the emir of Qatar, came as American and Israeli negotiators converge in Cairo this weekend for the next round of talks aimed at defusing the war that has consumed the Middle East for nearly six months.

The Egyptians and Qataris have served as intermediaries between Hamas and Israel, whose representatives do not speak directly, but repeated negotiating sessions have yet to yield a lasting deal. Mr. Biden reached out to the two Arab leaders to make clear that he is pressuring both sides, not just Israel, to forge an agreement. During a call on Thursday, Mr. Biden pressed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel to make a concerted effort for a deal.

The outlines of a possible agreement have been clear for months but the details have proven divisive. The terms would include a temporary cease-fire, the release of hostages kidnapped by Hamas during the Oct. 7 assault on Israel and the release of Palestinians held in Israeli prisons. Among other points of dispute, according to American officials, are the ratio of prisoners to hostages, the sequence of the releases and the return of Palestinian civilians to northern Gaza.

Leading the American delegation this weekend will be William J. Burns, the C.I.A. director, and leading the Israelis will be David Barnea, the head of Mossad, the country’s spy agency. Along with Egyptian and Qatari officials, they are expected to sit down on Sunday to try to hash out a consensus.



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