As the number of people killed in Gaza surpasses 300, international efforts to establish a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas are intensifying.
Qatar, home base to senior Hamas officials, appears to have been involved in diplomatic talks for days, a development that Egypt’s foreign ministry has criticized and that Israel itself is unhappy about.
QNA reports that Qatar’s foreign minister spoke to senior officials in the US, France and Norway yesterday to discuss “the means to reach an agreement for a cease-fire between the Palestinian and Israeli sides.”
The talks continue despite criticism from Egypt’s foreign minister earlier this week, who blamed Qatar, Turkey and Hamas of undermining Cairo’s attempts to reach a ceasefire between the aggrieved parties.
Egypt had proposed a ceasefire on Tuesday, which Israel accepted but Hamas rejected, saying they were not invited to the negotiation table. The group has shaky ties with Cairo, which sees it as an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, according to Reuters.
Qatar’s own relationship with Brotherhood supporters have also put it off sides with Egypt in the last year.
Meanwhile, Israel’s foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman also blamed Turkey and Qatar for the sunk ceasefire agreement. Speaking to Norway’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lieberman said, as quoted by Haaretz:
“Hamas was ready to consider the Egyptian proposal favorably but Qatar wanted to screw the Egyptians and told them not to accept it.”
The newspaper added that Khaled Meshal, head of Hamas’ political bureau, prefers working with Turkey and Qatar, where he is based. However, Israel prefers Egypt as a negotiator, due to its shaky ties with Turkey and lack of a relationship with Qatar.
For his part, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was reported as telling journalists yesterday:
“Israel threatens world peace. Israel threatens peace in the Middle East. Therefore, I personally, can never contemplate anything positive with Israel as long as I remain on duty. Israel is at the moment waging terrorism; Israel at the moment is carrying out genocide,” he said.
Turkey has also hit out at the United Nations and called on it to do more to step up efforts to establish a ceasefire.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is expected to head to the Middle East today to help end the conflict in Gaza between Israel and Hamas.