Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Qatar urges Israel, Hamas to do more to reach cease-fire deal


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Tel Aviv, April 28: A senior Qatari official has urged Israel and Hamas to show “more commitment and more seriousness” in cease-fire negotiations in interviews with Israeli media, as pressure builds to reach a deal that would free some Israeli hostages and bring a cease-fire in the nearly seven-month-long war in Gaza.
Qatar, which hosts Hamas headquarters in Doha, has been a key intermediary and was instrumental, along with the US and Egypt, in helping negotiate a brief halt to the fighting in November that led to the release of dozens of hostages. But in a sign of frustration, Qatar this month said it was reassessing its mediator role.
An Israeli delegation is expected in Egypt in the coming days to discuss the latest proposals in negotiations, and senior Hamas official Basem Naim said in a message to The Associated Press that a delegation from the militant group will also head to Cairo for talks. He did not elaborate, but Egypt’s state-owned al-Qahera TV said the delegation would arrive on Monday.
The interviews with Qatar’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Majed al-Ansari by liberal daily Haaretz and Israeli public broadcaster Kan were published and aired Saturday evening. They came as Israel promises to invade Gaza’s southernmost city of Rafah despite global concern for more than 1 million Palestinians sheltering there.
Al-Ansari expressed disappointment with Hamas and Israel, saying each side has made decisions based on political interests and not with the good of civilians in mind.
He did not reveal details of the state of talks, other than to say they have “effectively stopped,” with “both sides entrenched in their positions”.
Relations between Qatar and Israel have been strained throughout the war as some politicians in Israel, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, have criticised Qatar for not putting enough pressure on Hamas. Israeli legislators have also cleared the way for the country to expel Al Jazeera, the Qatar-owned broadcaster. Qatar has no formal diplomatic ties with Israel.
Al-Ansari’s remarks came after an Egyptian delegation discussed with Israeli officials a “new vision” for a prolonged cease-fire in Gaza, according to an Egyptian official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to freely discuss the developments.
The Egyptian official said Israeli officials are open to discussing establishing a permanent cease-fire in Gaza as part of the second phase of a deal. (AP)


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