Gaza war enters seventh month as truce negotiators expected in Cairo

The war between Israel and Hamas entered its seventh month on Sunday as US and other negotiators were expected to join the protagonists in Cairo in a renewed push for a ceasefire and hostage release deal.

Egypt's Al-Qahera News said CIA Director Bill Burns and Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al-Thani would join Egyptian mediators for Sunday's indirect talks between the Israeli and Hamas delegations.

Hamas confirmed ahead of the talks that its core demands were a complete ceasefire in Gaza and the withdrawal of Israeli forces.
American and Israeli negotiators were expected in Cairo over the weekend for a renewed push to reach a ceasefire-hostage deal in a war that has raged for nearly half a year.

Ahead of the talks, U.S. President Joe Biden wrote to the leaders of Egypt and Qatar urging them to dial up pressure on Hamas to "agree to and abide by a deal," a senior administration official told AFP on Friday night.

The United States, Qatar and Egypt have engaged for months in behind-the-scenes talks to broker a ceasefire and an exchange of hostages for Palestinian prisoners, but have made no headway since a week-long truce in November.

The White House confirmed that negotiations would occur this weekend in Cairo, but would not comment on U.S. media reports that CIA Director Bill Burns would be attending, along with Israel spy chief David Barnea, Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani and Egypt's intelligence chief Abbas Kamel.

Israel and Hamas, which negotiate through intermediaries, have traded blame for the lack of progress.

"This basic fact remains true: There would be a ceasefire in Gaza today had Hamas simply agreed to release this vulnerable category of...

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