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While still holding off the ground invasion, Israel praises Qatar over hostage talks

TJI Wrap
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While still holding off the ground invasion, Israel praises Qatar over hostage talks

Published: 27 October 2023

Last updated: 5 March 2024

Qatar's PM hopes there will be a breakthrough on hostage releases ‘soon’; Joe Biden says a two-state solution must follow the Israel-Hamas war, with no return to the status quo.

Israel is walking a fine diplomatic line when it comes to Qatar, as it waits for a breakthrough on the release of Israeli and foreign-national hostages held in Gaza.

Qatar, a US ally that hosts a large US military base, also hosts Hamas’s political bureau and doubles as the main residence of its self-exiled leader Ismail Haniyeh, as well as its former leader Khaled Mashaal. The country is one of Hamas’s main backers, transferring hundreds of millions of dollars to the terror group annually.

Qatar's prime minister expressed on Wednesday that he hopes there will be breakthroughs on hostage releases "soon" but according to a source engaged in the negotiations, there has not been a breakthrough at this stage.

Israel's National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi praised Qatar's diplomatic intervention in Gaza, calling it "crucial." Hanegbi’s statement was intended to improve relations between Israel and Qatar, after two days in which the Israeli government has been conveying harsh messages against the emirate.

Hanegbi’s statement was criticized by former prime minister Naftali Bennett, who accused the current government of “making a grave mistake.”

“Israel’s stated goal is to destroy Hamas,” Bennett continued. “Qatar’s goal is the exact opposite: to save Hamas. How can we destroy the enemy if we’re handing out compliments to its chief sponsor, for God’s sake… Qatar… will introduce limited hostage deals every few days to confuse Israel and hinder its efforts to eradicate Hamas.”

US President Joe Biden said on Wednesday that a two-state solution must follow the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza, with there being no returning to the status quo that existed before the October 7 attacks.

In his most extensive remarks on the quickly escalating conflict in recent days, Biden expressed a lack of confidence in the Palestinian self-reported death tolls in Gaza while sharply criticizing "extremist" West Bank settlers for "throwing gasoline on the fire" in their attacks against local Palestinians.

He also stressed that he had not demanded that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delay the ground incursion into Gaza. On the same day, the Wall Street Journal reported that Israel has agreed to postpone a Gaza ground invasion so that American defences can be reinforced across the Middle East,

Iran-backed groups have launched more than a dozen drone and missile attacks at U.S. and other anti-ISIS coalition forces in Iraq and Syria over the past week, causing deep concern among officials in Washington that the Gaza war could rapidly spread elsewhere.

Biden attempted to quell concerns about U.S. fears about a region-wide escalation of the conflict, noting that U.S. troops have been present in the Middle East since 9/11, "having nothing to do with Israel at all. My warning to the Ayatollah [of Iran] was that if they continue to move against those troops, we will respond. And he should be prepared. It has nothing to do with Israel."

Biden thanked Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi for his work in helping alleviate the Gaza humanitarian crisis by partially opening the Rafah border crossing, adding that he continues to work "around the clock" to secure the release of hostages and safe passage for foreign nationals who wish to leave Gaza.

He again repeated his belief that Hamas launched its attack because of the progress the U.S. and Saudi Arabia had made in recent months toward a historic normalization agreement with Israel, urging, "we can't leave that work behind”.

Meanwhile, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah hosted Hamas terror commander Saleh al-Arouri and Ziyad al-Nakhalah, the leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), also met on Wednesday.

Al-Mayadeen media, which is pro-Iran, said that the meeting relates to continued “coordination” between the terror groups, or the “Axis of Resistance” as Iran terms it.

"An assessment was made of the international positions being taken and what the parties of the Axis of Resistance must do ... to realize a real victory for the resistance in Gaza and Palestinian and to halt the brutal aggression," Hezbollah said, noting that there was agreement on continuing coordination.


Qatari PM Hopes for Gaza Breakthrough 'Soon'; Israeli Offical Lauds Doha’s 'Essential' Efforts (Haaretz)
Amid reports of Qatar holding negotiations with Hamas to free significant number of Israeli and foreign hostages, Israeli leadership calls on the Gulf state, 'which harbors and finances Hamas leaders,' to exert sway on the terrorist organization

In rare praise, Israel hails Qatar’s ‘crucial’ diplomatic efforts in Gaza crisis (Times of Israel)
National security adviser says Doha an ‘essential party in facilitation of humanitarian solution,’ after Hamas freed four hostages; former PM Bennett: Qatar is the enemy itself

Biden Says Two-state Solution Must Follow Israel-Hamas War, Slams 'Extremist' West Bank Settlers (Haaretz)
In his most extensive comments on the war so far, the U.S. president also questioned casualty numbers coming from the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry and urged the continuation of talks with Saudi Arabia

Netanyahu: After the war, everyone will have to answer for failures, ‘including me’ (Times of Israel)
In primetime speech, PM stops short of taking responsibility for debacle that enabled Hamas onslaught, vows ground invasion of Gaza coming, says Israel in ‘fight for our existence’

Nasrallah hosts Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders in Lebanon (Jerusalem Post)
The meeting of the terror heads is part of a cooperation agreement by Iran-backed groups to coordinate against Israel.

Israel Delaying Gaza Invasion So U.S. Can Bolster Defences Across Mideast, WSJ Reports (Haaretz)
According to the report, Israel is holding off until U.S. bolsters defenses across Middle East. U.S. officials, however, are further concerned about the effects on hostage talks and humanitarian crisis

UN Palestinian refugee agency: 600,000 internally displaced people in Gaza are sheltering in 150 UNRWA facilities (Reuters)
Nearly 600,000 internally displaced people are sheltering in 150 facilities of the United Nations Palestinian refugee agency (UNRWA) in Gaza, while at least 40 UNRWA installations have been impacted, the UN agency posted on Wednesday on the social media platform X.

Photo: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, left, and Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani arrive for their meeting in Qatar, October 13 (AP/Jacquelyn Martin, Pool)

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