Senior Israeli, Qatari, American and Egyptian officials will meet in Paris on Friday to try to advance a deal for a ceasefire and the release of hostages held by Hamas in Gaza, an Israeli official and a person briefed on the talks said Thursday. . .

The news came after President Biden’s Middle East envoy met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other senior officials in Israel, as part of a series of efforts to negotiate the release of hostages held in Gaza and a pause in combat. According to Israeli officials, about 100 hostages are still being held in Gaza. Authorities believe at least 30 other people have died.

Mossad chief David Barnea; CIA Director William Burns; Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim al-Thani; and Abbas Kamel, the head of Egyptian intelligence, are among the expected attendees, said the Israeli official and the person briefed on the talks, both speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss diplomatic developments.

Qatar and Egypt have been acting as intermediaries between Israel and Hamas, which do not negotiate directly.

On Tuesday, Hamas said a delegation led by Ismail Haniyeh was in Cairo to discuss efforts to end the war with Egyptian officials. On Thursday, Hamas issued a statement saying that Haniyeh had met with the Egyptian intelligence chief and his aides, and had concluded his visit. The statement said that among the topics discussed in those talks were the end of the war, the return of the displaced to their homes, humanitarian aid, the exchange of hostages for Palestinian prisoners and “what the occupation is planning in the Mosque of al-Aqsa” during Ramadan.

Efforts to secure a ceasefire deal have taken on greater urgency as the death toll in four months of war in the Gaza Strip approaches 30,000 Palestinians, according to health officials there, and as the plan grows declared by Israel to invade Gaza’s southernmost city, Rafah. International alarm.

The talks appeared to stall last week after discussions in Cairo failed to make any progress. Netanyahu withdrew the negotiators from him, accusing Hamas of refusing to budge on what he called “ridiculous” demands and vowing to press ahead with Israel’s offensive.

But on Wednesday night, Benny Gantz, a member of Israel’s war cabinet, said there had been momentum for a new draft of an agreement that indicated a “possibility of moving forward.”

And on Thursday, a White House official said that President Biden’s Middle East coordinator, Brett McGurk, had held “constructive” meetings in Israel with Netanyahu; Yoav Gallant, Israeli Defense Minister; and other members of Israel’s war cabinet.

“The initial indications we are getting from Brett are that these discussions are going well,” said National Security Council spokesman John Kirby. He also said that McGurk had spent a “good couple of hours” with Netanyahu.

McGurk focused on whether negotiators could “solidify a hostage agreement for an extended pause to bring all of those hostages home where they belong and achieve a reduction in violence so we can get more humanitarian assistance,” Kirby said.

Gallant, after meeting with McGurk on Thursday in Tel Aviv, said the Israeli government would “expand the authority given to our hostage negotiators.”

A person briefed on the talks, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said there were indications that both Hamas and Israel were willing to negotiate a tentative deal that could exchange 35 Israeli hostages who are medically fragile or elderly for an undetermined number of Palestinian prisoners. . .

Kirby said McGurk intended to pressure the Israeli war cabinet on its plans for its military operation in Rafah.

“Nothing has changed in our view that any operation in Rafah without due consideration and a credible executive plan for the security of the more than one million Palestinians seeking refuge in Rafah would be a disaster,” Kirby said. “We wouldn’t support that.”

Earlier this week, the United States vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution that would have called for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, saying it feared it could disrupt hostage negotiations.

Israeli and American officials have argued that an immediate ceasefire would allow Hamas to regroup and strengthen in Gaza, and would reduce pressure to reach a deal to release hostages held in the territory.

The United States has drafted a rival resolution, still in the early stages of negotiations, that calls for a temporary humanitarian ceasefire “as soon as possible” and the release of the hostages.

Adam Sella and Cassandra Vinograd contributed with reports.

By Sam