‘Got Played’: Israel Reportedly Suspicious Biden Admin Had Backroom Talks With Mediators Over Ceasefire Deal

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Israel is suspicious that the Biden administration had backroom talks with international negotiators to reach a ceasefire deal without Israeli leadership’s knowledge, Axios reported on Tuesday.

Hamas abruptly accepted a Qatari and Egyptian-manufactured ceasefire deal on Monday, which reportedly caught the Israeli government off guard and sent them rushing to review the proposal, the Associated Press reported Monday. The Israeli government is concerned that the Biden administration had prior knowledge about the deal proposed to Hamas, but didn’t tell Israel until after Hamas accepted the deal, several Israeli officials told Axios. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: Over 200 Days Into War, Family Of American Hostage in Gaza Strives For Deal To Bring Son Home)

Israel was surprised to see the proposal Hamas accepted had “many new elements” that were not included in previous proposals, Axios reported. “It looked like a whole new proposal,” one official told the outlet.

“Israel got played” by the U.S. and the Qatari and Egyptian negotiators, two Israeli officials told Axios.

REUTERS/Amir Cohen/Pool

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Isaac Herzog attend a wreath-laying ceremony marking Israel’s national Holocaust Remembrance Day in the Hall of Remembrance at Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Centre, in Jerusalem, May 6, 2024. REUTERS/Amir Cohen/Pool

CIA Director Bill Burns, who was in Egypt over the weekend for negotiations, and other Biden administration officials knew about the proposal that Hamas accepted but chose not to tell Israel, the officials told Axios. Burns had a phone call with Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant on Monday, but Burns didn’t speak on the proposal; when Hamas accepted it, Gallant was reportedly caught off guard.

The Israeli government is also highly suspicious that the Biden administration secretly gave assurances to Hamas through the relevant negotiators that a ceasefire deal would lead to the permanent end of the war in Gaza, two Israeli officials told Axios. Israel has rejected the idea of ending the war permanently, instead only expressing openness to a temporary halt in conflict.

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

REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein/Pool

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken walks with Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, at the Kerem Shalom border crossing, Israel, May 1, 2024. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein/Pool

A U.S. official countered the Israeli officials’ claims, saying that “American diplomats have been engaged with Israeli counterparts. There have been no surprises.”

“This is an extremely difficult process with negotiations conducted through intermediaries in Doha and Cairo,” the U.S. official told Axios. “[Israel’s ceasefire proposal in late April was] the most forward-leaning proposal to date. To secure a ceasefire, Hamas simply needs to release hostages. It’s all mapped out.”

Israel is still reviewing the proposal accepted by Hamas, but has signaled that it includes unacceptable provisions, according to Axios. The Israeli war cabinet is expected to send a delegation to Egypt for another round of negotiations and Burns is expected to be present.

The White House, State Department and National Security Council did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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