update deskIsrael at War

Qatar slams Netanyahu over leaked criticism

Majed Al Ansari accused the Israeli prime minister of “undermining the mediation process, for reasons that appear to serve his political career.”

Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) speaks outside the Qatari Embassy in Washington, D.C., at a gathering demanding the release of hostages on Jan. 24, 2024. Photo by Andrew Bernard.
Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) speaks outside the Qatari Embassy in Washington, D.C., at a gathering demanding the release of hostages on Jan. 24, 2024. Photo by Andrew Bernard.

Qatar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs is “appalled” by unconfirmed audio recordings reported in Israeli media of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticizing the Gulf state during a meeting with Israeli hostage families, the ministry’s official spokesman Majed Al Ansari said on Wednesday.

Israel’s Channel 12 published a leaked audio recording on Tuesday in which Netanyahu appears to discuss Qatar’s role as a mediator with Hamas during a roundtable with families of hostages taken on Oct. 7.

“When I talk about Qatar, you don’t hear me thank Qatar,” Netanyahu seemed to say. “Because for me, Qatar is no different in essence from the United Nations. It is no different in essence from the Red Cross, and to some extent, it’s even more problematic.”

In the recording, Netanyahu also appears to express frustration that the United States renewed a 10-year deal earlier in January for Qatar to host U.S. troops at Al Udeid Air Base without any apparent conditions related to the hostages.

“I’ve been very angry recently—and I didn’t hide it from the Americans—that they renewed the contract on the military base they have with Qatar,” the prime minister appeared to say. “Why didn’t you say, ‘I ask you to return the abductees to us.’”

In a statement on social media, Al Ansari wrote, “We are appalled by the alleged remarks attributed to the Israeli prime minister in various media reports about Qatar’s mediation role.”

“These remarks, if validated, are irresponsible and destructive to the efforts to save innocent lives, but are not surprising,” said the Qatari spokesman.

“If the reported remarks are found to be true, the Israeli prime minister would only be obstructing and undermining the mediation process, for reasons that appear to serve his political career instead of prioritizing saving innocent lives, including Israeli hostages,” he added. “Instead of concerning himself with Qatar’s strategic relations with the United States, we hope Netanyahu decides to operate in good faith and concentrate on the release of the hostages.”

JNS has not independently verified the recordings.

Despite being a frequent critic of Israel and having no diplomatic relations with the Jewish state, Qatar played a significant role in mediating between Israel and Hamas over the release of 105 hostages in November. An estimated 136 hostages remain in captivity in Gaza.

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