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Qatar re-evaluating its role as mediator in Gaza ceasefire talks

April 18, 2024 at 8:14 am

Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, Prime Minister in Doha, Qatar on 17 April, 2024 [Murat Gök/Anadolu Agency]

Qatar is re-evaluating its role as mediator in ceasefire talks between Israel and the Palestinian group, Hamas, citing concerns that its efforts are being undermined by politicians seeking to score points, its Prime Minister said on Wednesday, Reuters reports.

Qatari Prime Minister, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, who is also Foreign Minister, said there was a “misuse of this mediation for narrow political interests, and this necessitated Qatar to undertake a full evaluation of this role”.

Sheikh Mohammed did not identify any politicians by name.

Qatar’s embassy in Washington on Tuesday criticised comments made by US Democratic congressman, Steny Hoyer, in which he called on the US to “re-evaluate” its relationship with Qatar.

Hoyer said, on Monday, that Qatar must threaten Hamas with “repercussions” if the Palestinian group “continues to block progress towards releasing the hostages and establishing a temporary ceasefire”.

READ: Qatar warns Mideast at ‘critical juncture’ amid Iran-Israel escalation

Some other US lawmakers have suggested in recent months that Qatar supports Hamas, an accusation rejected by the Gulf State, which hosts some 10,000 US troops, the largest US military presence in the Middle East.

Sheikh Mohammed underscored, on Wednesday, that the role of mediator has limits: “(Mediators) cannot provide things that the parties themselves refrain from (offering).”

Earlier on Wednesday, Sheikh Mohammed said the talks on a Gaza ceasefire and a release of hostages were at a “delicate phase”.

“We are trying as much as possible to address this stumbling block,” he added, without giving further details.

Qatar’s Premier also condemned what he described as a policy of “collective punishment” being pursued by Israel in its war in Gaza against Hamas as well as the latest escalation of violence in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

The ceasefire discussions, mediated by Qatar and Egypt, are being held against the backdrop of a humanitarian disaster in Gaza, where Palestinians are suffering severe shortages of food, medicine and other essentials.

The war was triggered when Hamas attacked southern Israel from Gaza on 7 October, killing 1,200 people and taking 253 hostages into the enclave, according to Israeli tallies.

However, since then, it has been revealed by Haaretz that helicopters and tanks of the Israeli army had, in fact, killed many of the 1,139 soldiers and civilians claimed by Israel to have been killed by the Palestinian Resistance.

Israel has retaliated by pounding Gaza in an air and ground offensive which has killed almost 34,000 Palestinians, according to Gaza health authorities.

READ: Qatar rejects US Congressman’s criticism of its mediation efforts in Gaza