Qatar accuses Israel of not being serious about ceasefire talks

Foreign Ministry condemns comments made by Israeli ministers as Doha continues to reassess mediation role

Qatar's Foreign Ministry spokesman Majed Al Ansari delivers a weekly press briefing in Doha on Tuesday. Reuters
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Qatar has voiced its "deep frustration" over comments made by Israeli government ministers as Doha continues to re-evaluate its role as mediator in the Israel-Gaza war.

The Foreign Ministry in Doha said Israeli leaders have used "false information" to justify verbal "attacks" on Qatar's leading role in long-running ceasefire talks that remain on hold.

"Qatar is undergoing reassessment in its role as mediator. This has to do with a lot of factors, including various comments from Israeli officials," ministry spokesman Dr Majed Al Ansari said in weekly briefing.

"They all know the nature of the Qatari mediation, they are telling lies about the role of Qatar just to keep their positions. This cannot be justified," he added, saying Doha has "deep frustration" with statements from Israeli officials familiar with its role in the peace talks.

Dr Al Ansari said Qatar was committed to the mediation efforts but was reassessing its role in the process.

"We need serious commitment from all sides ... attacking mediators is a sign of lack of seriousness," he said. Mediation, he added, was the "only way" to end the war in Gaza, which entered its 200th day on Tuesday.

His comments echoed remarks made the previous day by Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, who said Doha was hopeful despite the stalled negotiations.

“We will maintain our efforts," he told Arab and European diplomats in Luxembourg. "The state of Qatar reaffirms its constant position: that only diplomatic measures can end this bloodshed."

Last week, he said Doha was re-evaluating its role in the talks after "exploitation and abuse of the Qatari role".

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and several right-wing members of his cabinet have routinely criticised Doha over its support of Hamas, whose October 7 attack on southern Israel sparked the war on Gaza.

Nir Barkat, Israeli Minister of Economy and Industry, described Qatar as a "wolf in sheep's clothing" in an interview with Bloomberg.

Speaking to US Jewish leaders in February, Mr Netanyahu said Qatar "can press Hamas as no one else can", prompting Doha to condemn his "empty" claims.

Hamas to remain in Qatar

Doha said there is no reason for Hamas to move its headquarters from Qatar, where it has been based since 2012.

"As long as their presence here in Doha, as we have always said, is useful and positive in this mediation effort, they will remain here," said Dr Al Ansari.

Doha appreciates Ankara's support in ceasefire negotiations but is unaware of any special role Turkey may hold in mediation, he added.

Qatar also warned Israel against a full-scale attack on Gaza's southern city of Rafah, where it said a "human catastrophe" is already under way.

"We don't talk about the situation. Rafah is not safe," said Dr Al Ansari, adding any attack on the city would have a "negative effect" on efforts to de-escalate tensions.

He said it was vital to force Israel to adhere to the latest UN resolutions and findings by the International Court of Justice.

Updated: April 23, 2024, 12:50 PM