CIA director working on hostage release efforts in Gaza, White House says

CIA Director William Burns (pictured speaking during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing last March) is involved in possible hostage release efforts in Gaza, the White House said Thursday. File Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI

Jan. 25 (UPI) -- White House national security spokesman John Kirby said Thursday that CIA Director William Burns is working toward another possible hostage release deal in Gaza amid its ongoing war with Israel.

Kirby said Burns -- who was involved in the effort to secure hostages in November -- has been involved with "helping us with the hostage deal that was in place and trying to help us pursue another one," he told reporters.

Calling the process "sober and serious," Kirby said White House adviser Brett McGurk is in the middle east currently to work out a possible deal, as well.

The CIA would not comment on further details of Burns' impending trip, but he is expected to meet with intelligence officials from Israel and Egypt, as well as Qatar's Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani in Europe, according to The Washington Post.

"Both sides want to consider this idea," Michael Milshtein, senior fellow at Reichman University and the former head of Palestinian affairs for Israeli military intelligence, told the Post, saying that it is his belief a deal could be reached within weeks.

"In Israel, there are more and more voices that really want to promote such a deal, and I think that Hamas also understands that the next stages of the conflict can cause this organization severe damages," said Milshtein.