Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Burns Balances Carrots and Sticks as U.S. Navigates Middle East Tensions

Main image to the post Burns Balances Carrots and Sticks as U.S. Navigates Middle East Tensions

One key American official is quietly keeping Washington's lines of communication open across the Middle East as the U.S. and Israel endure their worst falling-out in decades over the war in Gaza.

CIA Director William Burns, a veteran diplomat and Arabic speaker, was in Cairo alongside Qatari and Egyptian mediators this week as U.S. President Joe Biden set off a political firestorm by halting the shipment of about 3,500 bombs to Israel.

The White House is increasingly concerned about massive civilian casualties if Israel launches a ground offensive on Rafah, the southern Gaza city where 1.4 million Palestinians are sheltering from the war.

Biden's priority is winning a deal to release more of the hostages Hamas took in its deadly Oct. 7 attack on Israel. And it's fallen to the U.S. intelligence chief to balance Biden's carrots-and-sticks approach as Washington struggles to keep the seven-month-old war from escalating further.

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May 21, 2023 | 05:09