Qatar says Hamas will remain in Doha as long as group remains ‘useful’ for mediation

Gulf state has been criticized in Israel for funding terror group and sheltering its politburo, amid role in hostage negotiations

Emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani (R), ruler of Qatar since 2013, in a meeting with Hamas politburo leader Ismail Haniyeh (L) and official Khaled Mashal in Doha, October 17, 2016 (Qatar government handout)
Emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani (R), ruler of Qatar since 2013, in a meeting with Hamas politburo leader Ismail Haniyeh (L) and official Khaled Mashal in Doha, October 17, 2016 (Qatar government handout)

Qatar said Tuesday there were no plans to end the presence of an office for Palestinian terror group Hamas in Doha while the country’s mediation efforts continue in the Gaza war.

“As long as their presence here in Doha, as we have always said, is useful and positive in this mediation effort, they will remain here,” foreign ministry spokesperson Majed al-Ansari told a press conference.

Al-Ansari added that Qatar remained committed to mediation but was reassessing its role in “frustration with attacks” on its efforts.

Doha has rebuffed frequent criticism of its mediation from Israel, including by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan also reaffirmed on Tuesday that it seems Hamas will stay in Qatar. Erdogan was quoted in the media as saying he does not believe Hamas will leave its Qatar base, adding he had seen no such signs from Doha either.

The Turkish premier met in Istanbul on Saturday with Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh, who currently resides in Qatar. Hamas has had an office in Turkey since 2011, when Turkey helped secure the agreement for the group to free Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

It was reported that Hamas’s political chiefs are exploring moving their base of operations out of Qatar, as the Gulf state faces increasing pressure over its influence with the terror group in indirect hostage-for-truce negotiations with Israel.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, right, and Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, shake hands during their meeting in Istanbul, Turkey, April 20, 2024. (Turkish Presidency via AP)

Citing Arab officials, The Wall Street Journal said Hamas has recently contacted two regional countries about having its leaders live there, one of which is Oman.

The outlet noted that if Hamas leaders were to leave Doha, it could be more difficult for negotiations to be held with the terror group.

Qatar has hosted Hamas’s politburo leaders, including Haniyeh, since 2012.

The Gulf state, with the United States and Egypt, has been engaged in months of behind-the-scenes talks aiming to secure a truce in Gaza — where Israel and the Hamas terror group have been fighting for more than six months after the devastating October 7 terror assault — as well as the release of the 133 Israeli hostages still held by Gazan terror groups.

Israel has long had a complex relationship with Qatar, which became one of the first Arab countries to establish trade ties with Jerusalem in 1996.

Although those relations were severed 13 years later amid the 2009 Gaza war, Israel has coordinated with Qatar over the years for Doha to donate hundreds of millions of dollars to finance Gaza humanitarian projects along with the salaries of the Strip’s civil servants.

Critics say the Qatari funds helped strengthen Hamas at the expense of the more moderate Palestinian Authority and allowed Doha to gain a foothold in the enclave by bolstering an Islamist group opposed by Israel’s Arab allies.

The war between Israel and Hamas began with the shock Hamas assault on October 7, when thousands of terrorists invaded southern Israel, killing nearly 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and seizing 253 hostages.

In response, Israel vowed to eliminate Hamas and end the terror group’s rule of Gaza, launching an aerial assault and ground offensive to achieve its goals and return the hostages.

The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry has placed the Palestinian death toll since October 7 at over 34,000 people, although this figure cannot be independently verified and does not differentiate between civilians and combatants. Israel says it has killed some 13,000 Hamas gunmen in battle, as well as some 1,000 terrorists inside Israel on October 7.

Two hundred and sixty IDF soldiers have been killed since Israel launched the ground offensive in Gaza.

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