Qatar says efforts to renew Israel-Hamas truce 'continuing'

Qatar says efforts to renew Israel-Hamas truce 'continuing'
Qatar has said that it is continuing its efforts to bring about a new truce between Israel and Hamas, but says Israel's relentless and unprecedented bombardment of Gaza is reducing the chances of success.
3 min read
10 December, 2023
Qatar's prime minister was instrumental in securing the original truce and believes a new one is possible [Getty]

Mediation efforts are continuing to secure a new Gaza ceasefire despite ongoing Israeli bombardment that is "narrowing the window" for a successful outcome, Qatar's prime minister said Sunday.

"Our efforts as the state of Qatar along with our partners are continuing. We are not going to give up," Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani told the Doha Forum more than two months into Israel's war on Gaza.

Qatar was a key mediator in negotiations that resulted in a seven-day truce, which saw scores of Israeli hostages exchanged for Palestinians prisoners and humanitarian aid, until it ended at the start of the month.

The Israeli offensive has killed at least 17,700 people in Gaza, according to the health ministry, many of them women and children.

"We are going to continue, we are committed to have hostages released, but we are also committed to stop the war," the Qatari premier said.

But, he added, "we are not seeing the same willingness from both parties" and "the continuation of the bombardment is just narrowing this window for us".

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Addressing the Doha Forum earlier, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the Security Council was "paralysed by geostrategic divisions" that were undermining solutions to the conflict.

The body's "authority and credibility were severely undermined" by its delayed response to the war, he said two days after a US veto prevented a resolution calling for a Gaza ceasefire.

"I reiterated my appeal for a humanitarian ceasefire to be declared," he told the forum.

"Regrettably, the Security Council failed to do it," he added.

"I can promise, I will not give up."

Guterres had convened an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council after two months of fighting in Gaza.

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He deployed the rarely-used Article 99 of the United Nations Charter that allows the secretary-general to bring to the council's attention "any matter which in his opinion may threaten the maintenance of international peace and security".

The rule had not been invoked by a UN chief in decades.

Also speaking at the Doha Forum, Palestinian prime minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said the United States is as responsible as Israel for civilian deaths in Gaza.

"For the United States to block a United Nations Security Council resolution, one should hold the Americans responsible" for the deadly violence, he said.

Jordan's foreign minister Ayman Safadi, meanwhile, accused Israel of dragging the region "deeper into the sea of death".

Addressing the forum, Safadi said: "We are facing a difficult moment, a moment that will take us deeper into the sea of death and destruction, and Israel simply feels it can do that -- it feels unaccountable".