Qatar 're-evaluating' role as mediator in Israel-Hamas ceasefire talks

Qatar 're-evaluating' role as mediator in Israel-Hamas ceasefire talks
Qatar has said it will reassess its role as a mediator due to criticism of its relationship with Hamas and the break down of truce negotiations with Israel.
3 min read
18 April, 2024
Qatar's prime minister has worked since the beginning of Israel's assault on Gaza to bring a conflict to the end [Getty]

Qatar’s prime minister said on Wednesday that his country was reassessing its role as a mediator in negotiations aimed at bringing a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.

"Qatar is in the process of a complete re-evaluation of its role," Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani told a Doha news conference alongside Turkey’s foreign minister.

"There is exploitation and abuse of the Qatari role," he said, adding that Qatar had been the victim of "point-scoring" by "politicians who are trying to conduct election campaigns by slighting the State of Qatar."

His comments came a day after US Democratic lawmaker Steny Hoyer accused Qatar of "siding with Hamas" and said Washington would re-evaluate its ties with Doha if it failed to pressure the Palestinian group to accept a ceasefire proposal advanced by Israel.

This, in turn, prompted Qatar to release a statement on the same day, expressing surprise at the threat made by Hoyer.

"We share his frustration that Hamas and Israel have not reached an agreement on the release of the remaining hostages…but Qatar is only a mediator – we do not control Israel or Hamas," the statement read.

Qatar, along with the US and Egypt, has been working to try to mediate a deal throughout the six months of fighting in Gaza.

However, there is still no sign of any breakthrough in the negotiations as Israel and Hamas each refuse to move on conditions the other side declares unacceptable.

Despite Hoyer's criticism, the Gulf kingdom has gained considerable praise for its role in driving peace talks since Israel's assault began in October.

As well as successfully negotiated a temporary ceasefire in November, most recently, Al Thani was named as one of Time's 100 most influential people of 2024 over his mediation efforts. 

Qatari mediators had hoped to secure a ceasefire in March, before the start of Ramadan, but progress repeatedly faltered without any cessation of hostilities during the Muslim holy month which ended last week.



Earlier on Wednesday, Sheikh Mohammed said negotiations had stalled.

"We are going through a sensitive stage with some stalling, and we are trying as much as possible to address this stalling," the Qatari premier said.

Doha has hosted Hamas' political leadership since 2012, with the approval of the US. It has rebuffed frequent criticism of its mediation from Israel, including by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Fears have grown of the months-long war in Gaza spilling over into a regional conflict after Iran launched a retaliatory attack on Israel at the weekend, with Israel considering its response.

The Qatari premier said Doha had "warned from the beginning of this war against the expansion of the circle of conflict, and today we see conflicts on different fronts".

"We constantly call on the international community to assume its responsibilities and stop this war," he added, saying the people of Gaza faced “siege and starvation” with humanitarian aid being used as a "tool for political blackmail".

Over 33,899 Palestinians in Gaza have so far been killed during Israel’s war on Gaza, the vast majority being women and children.

The 2.3-million-strong population have been left in dire conditions amid shortages of food, shelter, and medicine, with famine looming over the besieged enclave.

(Agencies contributed to this report)