CIA chief meets Israeli and Palestinian officials amid Iran tension

William Burns will visit Jerusalem and Ramallah

US intelligence chief William Burns will reportedly visit Israel and the Palestinian territories on Tuesday, with Iran expected to be high on the agenda.

The CIA director will meet his Israeli counterpart, David Barnea, and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in Jerusalem, the Axios news website reported.

Mr Burns will then travel to Ramallah in the occupied West Bank to meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, a Palestinian official told AFP news agency.

American, Israeli and Palestinian officials would not confirm the visit when contacted by The National.

Mr Burns’ arrival comes days after Israel accused Iran of being behind an attack on an Israeli-owned tanker in the Gulf on July 29.

“Immediately after the Iranian attack on the ship, we shared our intelligence with our friends in the US, the UK and elsewhere,” Mr Bennett said last Tuesday. Tehran has denied involvement in the attack, which killed two crew members.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken also accused Tehran and last week said he was “consulting with governments inside the region and beyond on an appropriate response”.

Washington has, meanwhile, led efforts to revive a landmark nuclear accord with Iran, under which Tehran curbed its nuclear ambitions in exchange for sanctions relief.

Mr Burns served as deputy secretary of state in the years leading up to the 2015 deal between world powers and Iran.

The accord all but collapsed when the US pulled its support during the presidency of Donald Trump. Israel is vehemently opposed to his successor Joe Biden’s bid to rescue the deal.

Updated: August 10th 2021, 4:33 PM