Qatar ‘re-evaluating’ role as mediator in Israel-Gaza truce talks

Qatar’s prime minister says there has been ‘abuse and harm’ done related to Doha’s mediation efforts.

Qatar’s prime minister has said Doha is re-evaluating its role as a mediator in negotiations aimed at bringing about a ceasefire in Gaza and the release of Israeli captives, adding that some parties have used the mediation for “narrow political interest”.

Speaking at a joint news conference with Turkey’s foreign minister in Qatar’s capital on Wednesday, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani said that while his government remains committed to mediation between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas on a “humanitarian basis”, there has been “abuse and harm” done related to Doha’s role.

Some parties have made “destructive” statements against Qatar, he said, without specifying to whom he was referring.

The comments came a day after US lawmaker Steny Hoyer accused Qatar of siding with Hamas and said Washington would re-evaluate its ties with Doha if it does not pressure Hamas to accept a ceasefire proposal advanced by Israel.

Qatari mediators earlier warned that talks on a truce in Gaza had hit a “stumbling block”.

The negotiations to end the fighting and secure the release of captives are at a “delicate phase,” Sheikh Mohammed said at a news conference alongside Romanian counterpart Prime Minister Marcel Ciolacu.

“We are trying as much as possible to address this stumbling block”, he said.

Qatar has been working to try to mediate a deal throughout the six months of fighting in Gaza. However, there is still no sign of any breakthrough in the negotiations, as Israel and Hamas each refuse to move on conditions the other side declares unacceptable.

As the longwinded talks, mediated by Qatar and Egypt, continue, the Israeli military has continued deadly operations inside the enclave, which remains blockaded.

Close to 34,000 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed, while the 2.3-million-strong population have been left in dire conditions, amid shortages of food, shelter and medicine.

Meanwhile, the armed Hamas group continues to hold more than 100 captives taken from Israel during its raid across the enclave’s northern border on October 7, which killed more than 1,100.

Palestinians check the rubble of a building after Israeli bombardment at Al-Daraj neighbourhood
Palestinians check the rubble of a building after Israeli bombardment at Daraj neighbourhood in Gaza City [AFP]

The Qatari prime minister said negotiators are trying to “move forward and put an end to the suffering that the people in Gaza are experiencing and return the hostages”.

He condemned what he described as the policy of “collective punishment” being followed by Israel in Gaza, as well as the occupied West Bank.

Qatar has “warned from the beginning of this war against the expansion of the circle of conflict, and today, we see conflicts on different fronts,” he added. “We constantly call on the international community to assume its responsibilities and stop this war.”

The region is braced for the potential escalation of violence as Israel mulls its response to an attack by Iran over the weekend in retaliation to a suspected Israeli attack on its consulate in Syria.

Source: News Agencies