Saturday, May 25, 2024

Qatar rules out shutting Hamas office “as long as mediation channels continue”

Doha is yet to decide whether it will shut Hamas’ office in Qatar's capital, as it questions both the Palestinian group and Israel’s commitment to reach a hostage-ceasefire agreement in the Gaza Strip, the foreign ministry spokesperson has stated.

Qatar has come under pressure from Israel and US politicians over its links with the Palestinian group. But it announced on Tuesday that there won’t be a need to shut the Hamas political bureau in Doha provided that communication channels remain open.

“If the office is performing that role, as in the mediation efforts are ongoing, then there is no justification to end the presence of the (Hamas) office in Doha,” Spokesperson Majed Al Ansari told a news conference on Tuesday.

“We are calling on both sides to show more flexibility and seriousness in the negotiations,” Ansari added.

Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani has recently expressed concerns over the current state of international mediation efforts led by Doha to help reach an agreement on the release of hostages and a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in the besieged enclave.

Qatar has been working to try to mediate a deal throughout the seven 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.

As the longwinded talks, mediated by Qatar and Egypt, continue, the Israeli military has continued deadly military operations inside the tiny enclave, which remains blockaded.

More than 34,000 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed, while the 2.3-million-strong population have been left in dire conditions, amid shortages of food, shelter and medicine.

Meanwhile, the armed group continues to hold more than 100 captives taken from Israel during its raid across the enclave’s northern border on October 7, which killed more than 1,100.

A previous deal in November saw the release of 81 Israelis and 24 foreigners in exchange for 240 Palestinians, including 71 women and 169 children.

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