Qatar refuses to buckle to 'pressure' and says 'committed' to role as Gaza mediator

Qatar refuses to buckle to 'pressure' and says 'committed' to role as Gaza mediator
Qatar, which has mediated between Israel and Hamas throughout the war in Gaza, said it will not accept interference from any party, following Israeli criticism.
3 min read
07 May, 2024
Qatar has positioned itself as a key mediator between Israel and Hamas since the start of the deadly war in Gaza [Getty/file photo]

Qatar has stressed its position as an impartial mediator between Israel and Hamas throughout all ceasefire talks, saying it would not accept "being a pressure tool by any party", diplomatic sources said on Sunday.

Speaking to Al Jazeera Arabic, the sources emphasised that Qatar "does not impose itself" on the parties involved, in reference to Israel and Hamas, and accepts any mediation responsibility upon request.

The sources added that Qatar "would not allow interference from any party that would affect the integrity of its role".

Qatar’s comments come as Israel has criticised Doha for its "problematic" role in the truce talks, with Netanyahu accusing the Gulf country of "financing Hamas" in a leaked recording back in January.

Doha rejected the comments, calling the Israeli premier's words "obstructing and undermining the mediation process, for reasons that appear to serve his political career instead of prioritizing saving innocent lives, including Israeli hostages".

Over the years, Qatar has strongly denied the accusations.

In April, Economy Minister Nir Barkat said Qatar was "an untrustworthy broker" for Hamas and a "sheep in wolf’s clothing", which once again prompted sharp condemnations from Qatar, Bloomberg reported. 

Spokesman Majed Al-Ansari described Barkat’s comments as "lies and baseless accusations" that demonstrate "political recklessness and selfishness".

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"There is exploitation and abuse of the Qatari role," Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al-Thani said in mid-April.

Following the remarks, Qatar said it would be "reassessing" its mediator role, citing examples of Doha being "a victim of point-scoring by politicians who are trying to conduct election campaigns by slighting the State of Qatar".

The diplomatic sources told Al Jazeera that the Qatari mediation only disturbed "certain parties which have worked to criticise and attack it".

Such attempts are also aimed at transforming Qatar’s role "from an honest mediator" to a pressure tool, the sources stressed.

Qatar, alongside Egypt and the US, have mediated in a series of truce talks between Netanyahu’s Israel and the Palestinian group since 7 October in a bid to reach a ceasefire and secure the release of hostages held in the enclave.

Doha successfully negotiated an agreement between Hamas and Israel for a temporary truce in November and December last year, which saw a week-long pause in the war and the release of 150 Palestinian prisoners in held Israel, as well as 50 Israeli hostages.

Hamas said it will no longer send a delegation to Egypt for ceasefire talks following consultations on the matter in Doha, a source told The New Arab. It followed Israel's rejection of a ceasefire offer and continued assault on Rafah.

Over the year, Qatar has positioned itself as a mediator in issues relating to Libya, Afghanistan and Gaza.

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Israel’s war in the enclave has killed at least 34,735 Palestinians, mostly women and children as of Monday.

Israel continues to threaten an offensive of the far-southern city of Rafah, home to over 1.4 million Palestinians, most of which are displaced by Israeli bombardment, with Israeli troops entering the border crossing on Tuesday.

Israel claims that the far-south city, which border Egypt, is home to Hamas' "last stronghold in Gaza", and has vowed to "eliminate" the group with the UN and other international powers warning against an assault.