CIA chief visits Israel amid heightened tension with Iran

The head of American intelligence, William Burns, is expected this Tuesday, August 10 in Israel. On the program of this visit: the Iranian nuclear issue but also the recent incidents in the Gulf and on the Israeli-Lebanese border.

The visit of the head of the CIA is surrounded by the utmost discretion. It comes against the backdrop of renewed tension between Israel and Iran. Both in the Gulf but also on the Israeli-Lebanese border.

According to the media in Israel William Burns is to meet mainly with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and also his Israeli counterpart David Barnéa, the head of the Israeli intelligence center, the Mossad who has just taken office.

According to Israeli officials, the talks are expected to focus on Iran’s nuclear program and regional activities. Israel particularly wishes to know the position of the Biden administration towards the new Iranian president Ebrahim Raïssi.

Visit to Ramallah

According to the Israeli news site Walla News, William Burns will also travel to Ramallah to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Palestinian intelligence chief Majed Faraj.

The media in Israel recall that William Burns, a career diplomat, had been at the origin, under the presidency of Barack Obama, of a rapprochement with Iran which Israel had opposed.

US Central Intelligence Agency chief William Burns was due in Israel Tuesday for talks on common foe Iran, as rising tensions overshadow talks on restoring a landmark nuclear deal.

CIA Director William J. Burns begins his first working visit to Israel and West Bank as the agency’s director on Tuesday, where he will meet with top Israeli and Palestinian officials. 

Burns is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Wednesday and with Israeli President Isaac Herzog and top Israeli political and defense officials later this week. 

According to an Axios report, Burns is also slated to meet with the new Mossad chief David Barnea, who assumed office two months ago.

Burns’ visit comes against the backdrop of Tehran’s efforts to achieve nuclear capabilities as well as a possible return to its nuclear deal following the inauguration last week of a new Iranian president, Ebrahim Raisi.

In addition, Burns is expected to discuss Iran’s involvement in a wave of attacks in recent months against Western targets and Israeli-owned ships, including the attack on the Mercer Street merchant tanker about two weeks ago. Moreover, last week, Hezbollah fired 19 rockets at Israel over its northern border with Lebanon.

The CIA director will also visit the West Bank, where he is slated to meet with Palestinian intelligence chief Majed Faraj and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. According to the report, the CIA maintains close ties with the Palestinian security forces, which were kept even during Trump’s term when cooperation was halted.
Burns, a fluent Arabic speaker, was Deputy Secretary of State and an ambassador, serving as a diplomat for over 30 years and is regarded as one of the most respected voices on foreign policy issues for decades.

Burns was the Obama administration’s first lead negotiator in the talks leading to the Iranian accord in 2015, prior to being replaced by Wendy Sherman – Biden’s nominee for deputy Secretary of State. For his part, Burns has long argued that the nuclear deal actually makes Israel safer.

CIA director William Burns is set to meet with top-level Israeli and Palestinian officials and leaders this week during a trip to the Middle East, Axios has reported.

Burns will visit Israel on Tuesday to engage in talks that will likely centre on Iran, the news site reported, citing Israeli officials.

There, he will meet with David Barnea, the director of the Mossad intelligence agency, and Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, as well as other senior defence and intelligence personnel.

He is also scheduled to meet with Palestinian Authority officials during a stop in Ramallah, including intelligence chief Majed Faraj and PA President Mahmoud Abbas.

Israeli officials told Axios that the conversations will concentrate on Iran’s nuclear programme and regional activity. The officials also said Israel hopes to hear more about US policy toward the new Iranian government and the potential to revive the 2015 nuclear deal.

The trip comes amid heightened tensions after Israel, the US, and several European countries blamed Iran for an attack on an Israeli-owned shipping vessel last week that killed two of its international crew members.

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