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Qatar slams US congressman over threat to 'reevaluate' ties

Qatar hits out at US congressman for threatening to 'reevaluate' Washington-Doha ties
3 min read
17 April, 2024
Senior Democratic lawmaker Steny Hoyer threatened to 'reevaluate' the US relationship with Doha over the inability of Hamas and Israel to reach a deal.
Qatar’s embassy in Washington hit out at senior Democratic lawmaker Steny Hoyer, after he threatened to “reevaluate” the US relationship with Doha [Getty]

Qatar's embassy in Washington has hit out at a senior Democratic lawmaker who threatened to "reevaluate" the US relationship with Doha over the inability of Hamas and Israel to reach a deal.

The Qatari mission published a statement on Tuesday saying it was surprised by the threat made by Steny Hoyer, a congressman for Maryland's fifth congressional district

"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.

The statement highlighted that Qatar’s mediation role exists only because they were asked to assume the position by the US in 2012 as Israel and Hamas refused to engage in direct talks.

"But blaming and threatening the mediator is not constructive, especially when the target is a friend and Major non-NATO ally that presently hosts 10,000 US troops and America’s largest military presence in the Middle East," Qatar said in the statement.

Doha's sharply worded comments came after Hoyer released a statement on Monday saying Hamas had responded to Israel's latest truce offer with "absurd demands" and "unfeasible requirements", which included a permanent ceasefire and the full withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza.

He added that Hamas was using its intermediary, Qatar, to extract greater concessions from Israel and that Doha finances and backs the group.

Qatar has for years been forced to denounce such allegations and stress its role as a US-backed intermediary.

In November, Qatar's ambassador to the US, Meshal bin Hamad al-Thani, responded to Republican Senator Ted Budd's accusation that the Gulf monarchy had a "pro-Hamas policy" by saying that Doha does not endorse the group.

Earlier this month, Qatar strongly denied a US lawmaker's claim that Doha has paid Hamas $40 million a month since 2018.

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The US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller later said that Qatar had been and continues to be a "close partner" in the hostage negotiation process.

In a news briefing on Tuesday, Miller said Qatar had done everything it could to get the captives home.

He alleged that Hamas was the main challenge when it came to the hostage agreement - not Qatar or Israel. 

"It is Hamas that refused to agree to the deal that is on the table, despite the fact that it would achieve much of the things that they have publicly claimed and repeated statements that they are trying to achieve," he said.

He also called for increased aid to Gaza, particularly in the north where several people have died from starvation and malnutrition.

The US had been in communication with the Israeli government and partners about getting medical supplies into Gaza, he said reiterating that conversations were ongoing regarding the distribution of humanitarian aid.

Israel's war onslaught on Gaza has killed over 33,800 Palestinians in Gaza, mostly women and children.