Gaza ceasefire talks 'not really promising': Qatari PM

Gaza ceasefire talks 'not really promising': Qatari PM
Qatar's PM Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani expressed cautious optimism regarding ceasefire talks between Israel and Hamas at the Munich Security Conference.
2 min read
18 February, 2024
The prime minister of Qatar said that recent discussions between Israel and Hamas regarding a ceasefire in Gaza were not particularly promising [Getty]

Talks between Israel and Hamas to agree to a ceasefire in Gaza were "not really very promising" in recent days, the prime minister of Qatar, a key mediator for the negotiations, said Saturday.

"I believe that we can see a deal happening very soon," Qatar's Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani said at the Munich Security Conference.

"Yet the pattern in the last few days is not really very promising. We will always remain optimistic, we will always remain pushing," he added, speaking in English.

"Time is not in our favour", he said, casting forward to the beginning of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan on March 10.

Al-Thani did not disclose many details about the highly sensitive talks.

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But he did say that if an agreement were found on the "humanitarian side of the agreement", there would be a deal on the "numbers" for an exchange of hostages and prisoners.

A truce between Hamas and Israel should not however depend on a deal to release hostages held by Hamas, Al-Thani said.

"This is the dilemma that we've been in and unfortunately that's been misused by a lot of countries - that in order to get a ceasefire, it's conditional to have the hostage deal. It shouldn't be conditioned," he said.

Failure to reach a deal could lead to a wider escalation in the region, he warned.

Israel has faced growing international pressure to agree a ceasefire with Hamas, as it prepares an incursion into the crowded southern city of Rafah in Gaza.

Fears have grown for some 1.4 million Palestinians who have taken refuge in the city, close to the border with Egypt.

Israel's war on the besieged enclave began on 7 October and has killed at least at least 28,858 people, mostly women and children, and injured over 68,000 people.