Qatar confirms Gaza ceasefire talks have stalled

The negotiations were overshadowed by Iran’s attack on Israel at the weekend

Palestinians inspect the site of an Israeli strike on a house in southern Gaza on Wednesday. Reuters
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Gaza ceasefire negotiations have stalled and are at a “sensitive stage”, amid escalating tension between Iran and Israel, Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman said on Wednesday.

Two sources told The National on Tuesday that the months-long talks were on hold, with no meaningful contact by mediators and Hamas and Israel.

The on-off negotiations were overshadowed by Iran’s drone and missile attack on Israel on Saturday.

“Unfortunately, the negotiations are between moving forward and stalling, and at this stage we are going through a sensitive stage with some stalling,” the Qatari Prime Minister said in Doha.

“We are trying as much as possible to address this stalling, move forward and put an end to the suffering that the people in Gaza are experiencing and returning the hostages at the same time.”

Qatar's Prime Minister also hosted Turkey's Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan for talks on Gaza in Doha on Wednesday, a Qatari source told The National.

They discussed the need for de-escalation in the region, the Qatari source said, as the region remains on high alert ahead of Israel's expected retaliation against Iran.

A Turkish diplomatic source told Reuters that Mr Fidan met Hamas leader-in-exile Ismail Haniyeh, who Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he had invited to Turkey over the weekend.

Iran’s attack involved dozens of drones, as well as cruise and ballistic missiles, and was launched in retaliation for an air strike on its embassy compound in Damascus on April 1, which Tehran blames on Israel.

Iran signalled that it did not seek further escalation.

The sources told The National the last contact with Hamas over ceasefire negotiations was late on Saturday, hours before Iran launched its attack.

The militant group informed mediators from Qatar and Egypt that it had rejected the latest proposals.

Hamas has continued to maintain that it will not accept a truce or an exchange of detainees and hostages with Israel unless it is given guarantees over a permanent ceasefire, a full Israeli withdrawal from Gaza and an unconditional return home of Palestinians displaced in the northern part of the enclave.

Israel did not publicly comment on the Hamas response but has, in the past, described similar demands as “delusional”.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government said the war would only end after it dismantles the governing and military capabilities of Hamas, which has ruled the Palestinian enclave since 2007.

The Gaza war, the fifth conflict between Hamas and Israel since 2008, began when fighters from the militant group attacked southern Israel on October 7, killing about 1,200 people and kidnapping about 250.

Israel responded with a ferocious bombing campaign that has killed more than 33,900 Palestinians, displaced most of Gaza’s 2.3 million residents and razed large areas of the enclave.

Updated: April 17, 2024, 6:05 PM