Israelis Accuse Americans of Botching Ceasefire Talks

It doesn’t seem as though things should be this complicated.

If Israel refused to send a delegation to the talks, which they had themselves agreed to, I don’t know how they were surprised they ended up with a fake ceasefire.

It actually appears that the Israelis sabotaged these talks, and now are going around accusing the Americans.


Israeli officials claim the Biden administration knew about the latest hostage and ceasefire deal proposal Egypt and Qatar negotiated with Hamas, but didn’t brief Israel before Hamas announced it accepted it on Monday. A senior U.S. official pushed back saying “American diplomats have been engaged with Israeli counterparts. There have been no surprises.”

The episode has created deep disappointment and suspicion among senior Israeli officials regarding the U.S. role in the hostage deal talks and could negatively influence the negotiations going forward.

The U.S. official said “this is an extremely difficult process with negotiations conducted through intermediaries in Doha and Cairo.”

He added that the U.S. believes Israel has engaged in the talks in good faith and that Israel’s late April proposal was “the most forward leaning proposal to date. To secure a ceasefire, Hamas simply needs to release hostages. It’s all mapped out.”

Apparently not.

The official also said the Biden administration sees Hamas’ response as a counter-proposal and not as a new proposal.

Hamas announced on Monday that it accepted a ceasefire proposal given to it by Egypt and Qatar.

The announcement came after several days of talks between Hamas officials and Egyptian and Qatari mediators in Cairo over the weekend and on Monday in Doha.

CIA director Bill Burns was in Cairo and Doha when the talks were taking place and weighed in with the Egyptians and the Qataris, according to sources familiar with the talks.

The CIA declined to comment.

Three Israeli officials said the Hamas announcement on Monday surprised the Israeli government and that Israel didn’t receive the text of the group’s response from the mediators until an hour after Hamas released its statement.

When the Israelis read Hamas’ response, they were surprised to see it contained “many new elements” that were not part of the previous proposal that Israel agreed on and that was presented to Hamas by the U.S., Egypt and Qatar ten days ago, the officials said.

“It looked like a whole new proposal,” one official said.

Two senior Israeli officials said that when the Hamas delegation was in Cairo over the weekend, the Egyptians gave them a new proposal without coordinating with Israel.

A source with knowledge of the negotiations said the U.S. invited the Israelis to Cairo over the weekend but they chose not to send a team. One Israeli official admitted it was a mistake that led Israel to have less visibility into the talks.

The officials claimed CIA director Bill Burns and other Biden administration officials who are involved in the negotiations knew about the new proposal but didn’t tell Israel.

The Israeli officials also said the last touches on the proposal were made on Monday morning in Doha with theBiden administration’s knowledge.

On Monday morning, Burns spoke on the phone with Israeli Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant, a source with knowledge of the call said. But when Hamas released its statement the Israeli minister was also surprised.

Two Israeli officials said the feeling is that “Israel got played” by the U.S. and the mediators who drafted “a new deal” and weren’t transparent about it.

Two Israeli officials said Israel is deeply suspicious that the Biden administration gave guarantees to Hamas through the Egyptian and Qatari mediators about its key demand that a hostage deal will lead to the end of the war.

Israel has said it will not commit to ending the war as part of a hostage deal and that once the deal is implemented it will resume the fighting in Gaza until Hamas is defeated.

Hamas chief negotiator Khalil al-Haia told Al Jazeera that Hamas received assurances from the Egyptian and Qatari mediators that President Biden is committed to ensure that any hostage deal is fully implemented.

“We think the Americans conveyed the message to Hamas that it will be okay when it comes to ending the war,” one senior Israeli official said.

The Israelis agreed to these talks, then publicly said they wouldn’t honor the results, then refused to send a delegation.

It’s unclear why the Biden Administration would continue the talks after this. Maybe they just wanted to look like they were doing something, but if nothing happens but more war, what good is that?