Qatar claims Netanyahu purposefully obstructs Gaza mediation

Qatar has expressed strong disapproval of Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister of Israel, alleging that he intentionally hindered armistice and hostage-release negotiations with Hamas to advance his political interests.

On Wednesday evening, Majed al-Ansari, a spokesman for the Qatari foreign ministry, stated that his government was “appalled” by allegedly leaked statements attributed to Netanyahu in which he criticized Qatar’s mediation efforts in the Gaza conflict. He further stated that the Israeli leader’s remarks were “destructive and irresponsible” though “not unexpected.”

Ansari wrote on X, formerly Twitter, “Should the alleged statements be confirmed, the Israeli prime minister would be impeding and undermining the mediation process for apparent political gain rather than with the intention of rescuing Israeli hostages and innocent lives.”

The public dispute, which threatens to confound already arduous negotiations on aid, a ceasefire, and the release of an estimated 130 hostages still held captive in the Gaza Strip, has not yet prompted a response from Netanyahu’s office.

Bezalel Smotrich, the far-right finance minister of Israel, fueled the embers on Thursday with an X post that labeled Qatar the “patron of Hamas” and “a country that finances and supports terrorism” about the 7 October Hamas attack.

Netanyahu’s Critique of Qatar

In response to recordings of Netanyahu’s closed-door meeting with family members of hostages earlier this week that were obtained by Israel’s Channel 12, Ansari issued an atypical and incriminating statement. According to the recordings, Netanyahu described Qatar’s role in the mediation process as “problematic.”

Asserting that Qatar could exert more significant pressure on the Palestinian militant organization, the prime minister allegedly informed his relatives that he had not thanked Doha for its efforts thus far on purpose, believing that Qatar could exert more pressure and that he had been enraged at the United States, Israel’s most vital ally, for deciding to maintain a military base in the semi-democratic oil state.

“Qatar, in my opinion, is essentially identical to the United Nations.” “In essence, it is identical to the Red Cross; in fact, it is more problematic in some respects,” he stated.

“At this moment, I am willing to employ any actor to assist me in returning [the hostages].” I hold no illusory beliefs regarding [Qatar]. They are in a position of leverage.”

Israel has maintained for decades that international organizations, including the United Nations, are biased against it. Doha has established itself as an international mediator in recent years, intervening in conflicts including Ukraine, Sudan, Afghanistan, and previous rounds of combat in Gaza. It is near Hamas and accommodates a number of its political operatives.

Qatar’s Role in Gaza Conflict

In addition to Egypt and the United States, Qatar has been a prominent mediator in the three-month conflict in Gaza, which was initiated by Hamas’s assault on Israel and has claimed the lives of 1,140 individuals and the hostages of approximately 250. Israel claims that its offensive will eradicate the Palestinian militant organization. However, approximately 25,700 people have died and 85% of Gaza’s 2.3 million residents have been displaced.

Qatar played a pivotal role in facilitating a week-long ceasefire in November. In return for 240 Israeli children and women in prison, over 100 detainees were exchanged.

Since then, multiple iterations of negotiations have encountered setbacks. The accord calls for a 30-day ceasefire to release the remaining Israeli captives in stages. However, the involved parties have yet to agree on more enduring measures to conclude the conflict.

National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said White House Middle East envoy Brett McGurk landed in Doha on Wednesday. This was one day after meeting with Egyptian officials in Cairo.

The fiercest fighting in Gaza this year has overshadowed recent diplomatic efforts. The conflict has been concentrated in the southern city of Khan Younis, which the Israeli army declared “encircled” on Wednesday following two days of intense ground combat and airstrikes.

Impact of Recent Gaza Violence

Mรฉdecins Sans Frontiรจres and the Palestine Red Crescent say the fighting has cut off all three Khan Younis hospitals. The UN agency for Palestinian refugees’ chief said 800 individuals sought safety at the centre on Wednesday after shelling. On social media, the director reported nine deaths, seventy-five injuries, and medical crews were unable to access the facility.

Israel denied any involvement of its forces in the assault.

Israelis support the conflict, yet surveys show that Netanyahu and his far-right government are losing support. Saturday night inmate release protests have grown in recent weeks to include election reform demands.

The public has become more dissatisfied with the war as a result of the 21 Israeli soldiers who were mining buildings for demolition when a grenade fire struck them on Tuesday. This singular incident has been the deadliest for Israeli forces in the conflict to date.

Wednesday night, thousands of individuals participated in a demonstration in Tel Aviv. Also the demonstration was organized by women’s advocacy groups and temporarily halted traffic on a major highway. The demonstration demanded an immediate government proposal for a new agreement to free the hostages.

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