Israeli security chiefs head to Cairo for talks on hostage deal

In a letter, families of hostages tell Mossad and Shin Bet chiefs not to return without 134 captives, dead or alive; delegation leaves after PM concedes to Biden request but officials say Bar and Barnea are mostly in Cairo to listen as Hamas demands non-starters
Mossad chief David Barnea and Shin Bet chief Ronen Bar travelled to Cairo at the head of an Israeli delegation for talks on a possible hostage release deal, Saudi media reported on Tuesday.
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"Don't come back until all hostages, dead or alive, are returned," the families of the hostages said in a letter to the security officials. "The eyes of 134 men, women and children held captive are upon you. This is a once in a life time mission and you have the ability to save them," they said.
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טקס יום הזיכרון לשואה ביד ושם
טקס יום הזיכרון לשואה ביד ושם
Mossad Chief David Barnea with Shin Bet Chief Ronen Bar
(Photo: Yoav Dudkevitch )
The delegation left after it was given the approval of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and is expected to meet CIA director William Burns who was also on his way to Egypt to attempt to advance a new deal that would see Israeli hostages held by Hamas for the past 130 days, freed in exchange for an extensive pause in the fighting in Gaza and the release of convicted Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails.
Netanyahu rejected Hamas demands to end the war before hostages would be freed, calling it a non-starter, and delayed his approval of an Israeli participation in the talks. His decision was made after a phone conversation with U.S. President Joe Biden on Sunday and the president's request to send a delegation to the talks even if a breakthrough does not seem likely.
Senior Israeli officials said the gap in positions is still big and there is full consensus in Israel that the Hamas demands cannot even be contemplated.
Since Hamas provided their response to a proposal agreed to in the Paris Summit last month, with the participation of Israel, The U.S., Egypt Qatar and France, Barnea had been in contact with the Egyptian and Qatari governments to try to agree on an outline. Still the officials said that Barnea and Bar will be mostly listening during their stay in Cairo.
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ויליאם ברנס ראש ה CIA
ויליאם ברנס ראש ה CIA
CIA chief William Burns
(Photo: AFP)

The talks in the Egyptian capital will take place as relations between Egypt and Israel have reached a new level of tension, amid the possible offensive by the IDF on Rafah, Gaza's southern most city, on the Egyptian border.
But Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry on Monday reaffirmed his country's commitment to its peace agreement with Israel, which has endured for more than four decades.
Egypt is interested in advancing negotiations for a deal and reportedly indicated as much to Hamas, telling the terrorists that they must agree to a deal within the next two weeks or Israel would launch its offensive on Rafah, which is considered by Israeli officials to be the Hamas's last stronghold in the Strip.
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פליטים פלסטינים עוזבים מחאן יונס לרפיח עזה
פליטים פלסטינים עוזבים מחאן יונס לרפיח עזה
Gazan's leave Khan Younis for Rafah to escape the fighting
(Photo: Ibraheem Abu Mustafa / Reuters)
Israel presented the Egyptians with a plan to move civilians out of Rafah to safety, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal. With funding from the U.S. and Arab nations, 15 tent cities would be erected by Egypt, each able to accommodate 25,000 tents in the south western areas of the Gaza Strip and a hospital would also be set up there.
Egypt is most concerned of a surge of refugees from Gaza, moving across the border into the Sinai Desert and has asked Israel to limit its offensive on Rafah.
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