Qatar says no 'clear position' from Israel on Gaza ceasefire deal

Qatar says no 'clear position' from Israel on Gaza ceasefire deal
Qatar - one of the mediators in the Gaza ceasefire negotiations - has called on Israel to make its position clear regarding Biden's latest proposal.
3 min read
Al-Ansari said there have been "contradictory" statements by Israeli ministers, and Hamas was yet to give a "firm" response [Getty/file photo]

Mediator Qatar said Tuesday it was waiting for a "clear position" from Israel on a proposed Gaza ceasefire and hostage release deal outlined by US President Joe Biden.

"We have yet to see a very clear position from the Israeli government towards the principles laid out by Biden," foreign ministry spokesman Majed al-Ansari said, adding there was no "concrete approval" from either side.

"We have read and seen the contradictory statements coming in from Israeli ministers, which doesn't give us much confidence of there being a unified position in Israel over this current proposal on the table," Ansari told a regular press conference.

The Palestinian movement Hamas has also yet to give a firm response, the official added.

"We haven't seen any statements on both sides that give us a lot of confidence," he added, noting, however, that "the process is progressing and we have been working with both sides on proposals on the table".

Qatar, with the US and Egypt, has been engaged in months of back-and-forth negotiations over details for a ceasefire and exchange of hostages and prisoners by both sides.

But with the exception of a seven-day break in the fighting beginning in November that led to the release of more than 100 hostages, a series of in-person mediation efforts have not stopped the fighting.

In an effort to reinvigorate talks, US President Joe Biden said on Friday that Israel was offering a new three-stage roadmap towards a full ceasefire, including the release of hostages held by Palestinian fighters in the Gaza Strip.

According to the US president, Israel's three-stage offer would begin with a six-week phase that would see Israeli forces withdraw from all populated areas of Gaza and an initial hostage-prisoner exchange. The parties would then negotiate for a lasting ceasefire, with the truce to continue as long as talks are ongoing.

In its final phase, the plan would lead to the reconstruction of the devastated Palestinian territory without Hamas in power, Biden said.

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"There is momentum internationally, driven by the US... but we need to be very cautious," Ansari said.

"We are using our leverage as a make sure that both sides understand the gravity of the situation and the need to reach an agreement."

The US president and Qatar's ruler spoke on Monday, when, according to the White House, Biden told the emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, that Hamas was the only obstacle to a Gaza ceasefire deal with Israel, and urged him to press the group to accept it.

Negotiations ground to a halt in early May as Israel began ground operations in Rafah in southern Gaza.

Previous frameworks presented by mediators have run aground over Hamas' demand that any truce lead to a permanent ceasefire, while Israel has said it must be allowed to pursue its war aim of destroying the Palestinian group.