The Qatari diplomat said if the reports are accurate “the Israeli PM would only be obstructing and undermining the mediation process, for reasons that appear to serve his political career.”
Qatar is “appalled” by reported remarks by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over its mediation between Israel and Hamas, saying if validated, they are “irresponsible and destructive” the efforts.
“We are appalled by the alleged remarks attributed to the Israeli Prime Minister in various media reports about Qatar’s mediation role. These remarks, if validated, are irresponsible and destructive to the efforts to save innocent lives, but are not surprising,” Qatar’s foreign ministry spokesperson, Majed Al Ansari, said on X.
Al Ansari was referring to earlier Israeli media reports over leaked recordings from a meeting between Netanyahu and the families of captives in Tel Aviv on Tuesday, where he reportedly accused Qatar’s mediation between Hamas and Israel of being “problematic.”
Netanyahu also claimed that Qatar funds Hamas — a claim that the Gulf country has repeatedly dismissed.
“Qatar, from my point of view, is no different in essence than the United Nations… and the Red Cross, [Qatar] is even more problematic,” Netanyahu is heard telling the families in the leaked recording.
He added that he was willing to speak to anyone who would help return the captives.
“I have no illusions about them. They have leverage [over Hamas]… Because [Qatar] funds them,” Netanyahu added.
The remarks came despite Qatar’s pivotal mediation efforts to release Israeli and foreign captives from Hamas in Gaza since their capture during the surprise attack of October 7, 2023 — which Israel has long used to justify its genocidal war.
Al Ansari underscored Qatar’s successful mediation last year alongside Egypt, which resulted in a temporary truce that lasted between November 24 and December 1.
The pause saw the release of at least 110 Israeli and foreign captives from Gaza as well as 240 Palestinian women and children from Israeli prisons.
While the talks have since appeared to stall under the non-stop Israeli attacks and ground invasion of Gaza, where Israel has killed more than 25,000 Palestinians, Al Ansari noted that “Qatar has been engaged in regular dialogue with the negotiating parties including Israeli institutions.”
“If the reported remarks are found to be true, the Israeli PM would only be obstructing and undermining the mediation process, for reasons that appear to serve his political career instead of prioritising saving innocent lives, including Israeli hostages,” Al Ansari added.
Hamas opened its political office in Qatar in 2012 following the United States’ request to establish a channel of communication, a move that has since allowed Doha to successfully mediate between the conflicting parties on several occasions to achieve crucially needed ceasefires.
Qatar — a major non-NATO U.S. ally — and France also managed to broker a deal on January 12 to allow the delivery of aid and medicines to the remaining captives and civilians in Gaza.
Despite this, Netanyahu reportedly criticised the U.S. for its decision to extend its military presence at the Al Udeid Air Base, the largest in the region, in Qatar for 10 more years.
Netanyahu can be heard saying in the leaked recording that he got “very angry recently with the Americans” over their decision. He added that using the deal as leverage “would apply pressure” on Qatar.
“Instead of concerning himself with Qatar’s strategic relations with the United States, we hope Netanyahu decides to operate in good faith and concentrate on the release of the hostages,” Al Ansari said.
Israel’s finance minister, Bezalel Smotrich, then accused Qatar of “supporting and funding terrorism,” in response to Al Ansari’s remarks.
“Qatar is the patron of Hamas and is largely responsible for the massacre committed by Hamas of Israeli citizens. The West’s attitude towards [Qatar] is hypocritical and based on improper economic interests. The West can and should exert much stronger levers on her and bring about the release of the abductees immediately,” Smotrich said on X.
“One thing is clear: Qatar will not be involved in what happens in Gaza the day after the war,” Smotrich added.
Israel’s Western ally, the U.S., has militarily backed its war on Gaza while blocking attempts at reaching a comprehensive ceasefire.
On December 8, Washington used its veto power to block a UN Security Council resolution over a ceasefire in Gaza while militarily backing Israel.
Meanwhile, Israel’s attacks on Khan Younis, southern Gaza, have intensified this week, where thousands have been taking refuge since the beginning of the war, especially those forced to flee from the north.
The airstrikes and attacks on the ground have forced people to flee again while Israeli tanks besiege the Palestine Red Crescent Society’s headquarters and Al-Amal and Nasser hospitals in Khan Younis.
Following the attacks, there are now 14 partially functional hospitals out of 36 in Gaza, according to the UN’s latest flash update.