Qatar says it may drop role as mediator in hostage talks

Qatar’s prime minister says the country is reassessing its role as a central mediator in talks for a Gaza truce and a hostage release because it is being misused by some for their own goals.

“Qatar is in the process of a complete re-evaluation of its role because there has been damage to Qatar,” Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani tells a press conference.

He says there was a “misuse of this mediation for narrow political interests,” but does not name any politicians.

Qatar’s embassy in Washington on Tuesday criticised comments made by US Democratic congressman Steny Hoyer, in which he called on the US to “reevaluate” its relationship with Qatar.

Hoyer said on Monday that Qatar must threaten Hamas with “repercussions” if Hamas “continues to block progress towards releasing the hostages and establishing a temporary ceasefire,” echoing a consistent request from Israel.

The prime minister notes that the role of mediator has limits: “[Mediators] cannot provide things that the parties themselves refrain from [offering].”

Some other US lawmakers have suggested in recent months that Qatar supports Hamas, an accusation rejected by the Gulf state, which hosts the terror group’s leadership, as well as some 10,000 US troops, the largest US military presence in the Middle East.

Over the weekend, the Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar had hosted a major regional effort, led by the US, to help down a barrage of Iranian missiles and drones fired at Israel, according to an Israeli source. Qatar also participated in the effort.

At the same press conference, Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan accuses Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of taking advantage of regional tensions “to stay in power.”

“It is clear that Netanyahu is trying to drag the region into war to stay in power,” Fidan says in Doha.

He adds that he spoke for “three hours” in Doha on Wednesday with Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh and other political leaders of the Palestinian terror group, including about ceasefire talks.

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