McGurk is reportedly heading to Cairo on Sunday, where he will meet with the Egyptian Minister of Intelligence, Abbas Kamel.
U.S. President Joe Biden’s senior Middle East adviser Brett McGurk is reportedly returning to Qatar this week for talks aimed at releasing the remaining captives from Hamas, three sources privy to the matter told Axios on Sunday.
The senior U.S. official is scheduled to stop at Cairo and Doha for his second regional trip since the beginning of the year, as the countries mediate the release of captives under wider efforts to secure a ceasefire.
Qatar — the host of a Hamas political bureau — and Egypt had mediated a temporary truce that lasted between November 24 and December 1.
The pause saw the release of at least 110 Israeli and foreign captives from Gaza as well as 240 Palestinian women and children from Israeli prisons.
Around 132 captives are still in Gaza, out of which at least 27 are believed to have been killed under the Israeli war on the Strip, according to an AFP tally compiled based on Israeli figures.
Washington’s National Security spokesperson John Kirby revealed on January 16 that McGurk was in Doha for “very serious” negotiations on another captive release deal.
“What I can tell you is that we’re working on this very, very diligently. That is why Brett was in Doha this past week. I don’t want to get ahead of where we are, but we are having, I would say, very serious and intensive discussions in Qatar about the possibility of another deal,” Kirby said at the time.
McGurk is reportedly heading to Cairo on Sunday, where he will meet with Egyptian Minister of Intelligence Abbas Kamel. He will then visit Doha where he is scheduled to meet Qatar’s Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani in Doha.
Qatar, also a major non-NATO ally, mediated another agreement between Hamas and Israel last week over the delivery of medicine to Gaza’s civilians and prescription medicine to the remaining captives in the Strip.
Israel has intensified its genocidal war in Gaza despite the current diplomatic push for a ceasefire, which the occupying state has repeatedly rejected.
The number of Palestinians killed by Israel surpassed 25,000 by Sunday, while the number of injured reached at least 62,681, according to Gaza’s health ministry.
Meanwhile, Hamas’s chief Ismail Haniyeh met Turkiye’s Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan on Saturday in the first such meeting in more than three months, diplomatic sources told AFP.
The meeting touched on the release of captives from Hamas, efforts to secure a ceasefire in Gaza, increasing humanitarian aid, and “a two-state solution for a permanent peace.”
Despite sharing diplomatic ties with Israel, Turkiye, a NATO member, has taken a harder stance towards Israel since the beginning of the war.
On December 27, Erdogan said that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was no different from Adolf Hitler.
“They used to speak ill of Hitler. What difference do you have from Hitler? They are going to make us miss Hitler. Is what this Netanyahu is doing any less than what Hitler did? It is not,” Erdogan said at the time.
“He is richer than Hitler, he gets the support from the West. All sorts of support comes from the United States. And what did they do with all this support? They killed more than 20,000 Gazans,” Erdogan added.