The head of the Israel Security Agency – known by the Hebrew acronym “Shin Bet” – met with Egyptian and Palestinian leaders in the past week amid speculation that Egypt is pushing for the establishment of a long-term truce between Israel and Gaza.
Ronen Bar met with Egyptian spymaster, Major General Abbas Kamel on Sunday, marking Bar’s first visit since his appointment. In addition, Bar reportedly met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas last week in order to coordinate a strategy to curtail Hamas’ influence in the West Bank.
Kamel is expected to visit Tel Aviv later this month, his second visit since the new Israeli government was sworn in five months ago. He may have a proposal for a prisoner-swap agreement to present to Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett at that time.
On Nov. 4, Kamel said in an exclusive interview with Axios that the prisoner exchange deal between Israel and Hamas must include Israel’s release of elderly, female and juvenile prisoners in exchange for Hamas’ release of the bodies of two Israeli soldiers killed in 2014 and two civilians that are currently being held in Gaza. Hamas leaders have also mentioned they want the release of political prisoner Marwan Barghouti, who was convicted in 2004 of involvement in terror attacks that killed several Israelis. Barghouti is a member of Fatah, Hamas’ rival party in the West Bank.
Yahya Sinwar, head of the Hamas movement in Gaza, accused Israel of obstructing the prisoner exchange deal. He said on Twitter that the movement rejects linking the prisoner exchange to other issues. Sinwar also said that the May war was sparked by violence not in Gaza but in Jerusalem – and insisted that Hamas does differentiate between Gaza, Jerusalem and the West Bank.
Security talks between Egypt and Israel include coordination on the recent coup in Sudan and the visit by the son of retired Libyan Major General Khalifa Haftar to Tel Aviv to lobby for Israeli support for his father in upcoming presidential elections.
Following the 11-day conflagration in May between Israel and Hamas, Egypt has solidified its position as mediator between Israel and the Palestinians, continuing its effort to avoid confrontation between the two sides.