Qatar 'appalled' at alleged criticism by Netanyahu

AFP , Thursday 25 Jan 2024

Qatar said Wednesday it was "appalled" by remarks attributed to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was allegedly caught on tape calling the emirate's role as mediator in the Gaza war "problematic".

File Photo -Qatar s Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman Al Thani .A P


At a meeting this week with the families of captives held in Gaza, Netanyahu blamed Qatar for financing Hamas and said he was upset at a US decision to extend the presence of a military base in the Gulf state, according to Israeli news outlet Channel 12.

Qatar, along with Egypt and the United States, was one of the mediators of a weeklong truce deal in November that led to the release of 105 captives.

"You don't hear me thanking Qatar... who are essentially no different from the United Nations or Red Cross, and even more problematic. I have no illusions with regards to them," Netanyahu purportedly says in a recording obtained by Channel 12.

"They have the means to put pressure (on Hamas). And why? Because they finance them," he continues, adding that he was "very angry" at Washington's decision to renew its base agreement with Qatar.

In a statement posted on the social media platform X, Qatari foreign ministry spokesman Majed Al Ansari said his country was "appalled by the alleged remarks attributed to the Israeli Prime Minister".

"These remarks if validated, are irresponsible and destructive to the efforts to save innocent lives, but are not surprising," the statement said.

Qatar is still involved in talks aimed at securing a new captives deal, and Ansari said Netanyahu's remarks were detrimental to those efforts.

"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," the statement said

It added that Netanyahu should focus on freeing the captives rather than "concerning himself with Qatar"s strategic relations with the United States".

Qatar is home to the regional headquarters of the Pentagon's Central Command at the al-Udeid Air Base, and permits regular shore visits by US naval vessels patrolling the Gulf region.

It also hosts the political leadership of Hamas and in recent years has sent hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to the Gaza Strip.

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