Skip to main content

Israel-Palestine war: Israeli war cabinet 'blocks Mossad chief' restarting talks in Qatar

David Barnea offered to kick off negotiations over hostages but ministers don't want Israel to make first move, according to Channel 13
Israel's Mossad Director David Barnea speaks during the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT) World Summit in the central coastal city of Herzliya on 10 September 2023 (AFP)
Mossad director David Barnea speaks during the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism World Summit in Herzliya, Israel on 10 September 2023 (AFP)

The head of Mossad offered to travel to Qatar to restart negotiations to free Israeli captives held in Gaza, but Israel's war cabinet rejected the offer, according to a report published by Israel's Channel 13. 

David Barnea was not sent to Doha, due to a perception that Hamas's senior officials in Qatar had been cut off by its leaders in Gaza, according to sources familiar with the matter. 

The report, published on Wednesday evening, stated that Israeli ministers would not propose a deal or enter talks unless they were convinced Hamas intended to make another agreement. 

The sources told Channel 13 that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defence Minister Yoav Gallant and opposition figure Benny Gantz, who is in the war cabinet, all agreed that Israel should not initiate a deal. 

Netanyahu and Gallant favour waiting for Hamas to make a move, while Gantz believes Qatari mediators should be prompted to advance negotiations, the report adds. 

Stay informed with MEE's newsletters

Sign up to get the latest alerts, insights and analysis, starting with Turkey Unpacked


On Thursday, Al-Araby al-Jadeed reported that Israel has turned to Egypt to lead negotiations on a deal to release captives, citing Egyptian sources. 

The sources said that Egyptian intelligence chief Abbas Kamel spoke on the phone with Barnea on Sunday.

The head of Hamas's political bureau in Gaza, Basem Naim, denied that any new prisoner negotiations had taken place with mediators. 

Around 140 captives still held in Gaza

In late November, a seven-day truce gave a brief respite to Palestinians in the enclave who had been under constant Israeli bombardment. It also paved the way for the release of Palestinians detained in Israeli prisons, and captives held in Gaza.

Some 240 Palestinians were released from Israeli jails in exchange for 105 captives held in Gaza. 

The released Palestinians were women and young people. CNN reported that of the first 150 Palestinians released, 98 had not been charged with an offence.

The captives freed from Gaza are thought to have all been civilians, including several women and children. The vast majority are Israeli citizens, though many have dual nationality. Among those freed were 23 Thai citizens.

Around 140 other people are thought to remain captive in Gaza, according to official Israeli estimates. Several Israeli captives have been killed by Israeli bombing and raids, according to Hamas.

Israel's two-month bombing campaign has killed over 18,608 Palestinians in Gaza, including over 7,000 children.

It came after Hamas's surprise attack on southern Israel, which killed at least 1,140 people, mostly civilians. 

Middle East Eye delivers independent and unrivalled coverage and analysis of the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. To learn more about republishing this content and the associated fees, please fill out this form. More about MEE can be found here.