Israel-Gaza truce talks have hit ‘stumbling block’, says Qatar

Mediator warns that negotiations are at ‘delicate phase’ as the war in the enclave grinds on.

A plume of smoke billows during Israeli bombardment at Daraj neighbourhood in Gaza City on April 16, 2024 [AFP]Published On 17 Apr 202417 Apr 2024

Talks on a truce in Gaza have hit a “stumbling block”, Qatari mediators have warned.

The negotiations to end the fighting and secure the release of prisoners held by Israel and Hamas are at a “delicate phase,” Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said on Wednesday.

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“We are trying as much as possible to address this stumbling block”, Sheikh Mohammed, speaking at news conference alongside Romanian counterpart Prime Minister Marcel Ciolacu, said.

Qatar has been working to try to mediate a deal throughout the six months of fighting in Gaza. However, there is still no sign of any breakthrough in the negotiations, as Israel and Hamas each refuse to move on conditions the other side declares unacceptable.

As the longwinded talks, mediated by Qatar and Egypt, continue, the Israeli military has continued deadly operations inside the enclave, which remains blockaded.

Close to 34,000 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed, while the 2.3-million-strong population have been left in dire conditions, amid shortages of food, shelter and medicine.

Meanwhile, the armed Hamas group continues to hold more than 100 captives taken from Israel during its raid across the enclave’s northern border on October 7, which killed more than 1,100.

Palestinians check the rubble of a building after Israeli bombardment at Daraj neighbourhood in Gaza City [AFP]

The Qatari prime minister said negotiators are trying to “move forward and put an end to the suffering that the people in Gaza are experiencing and return the hostages”.

He condemned what he described as the policy of “collective punishment” being followed by Israel in Gaza, as well as the occupied West Bank.

Qatar has “warned from the beginning of this war against the expansion of the circle of conflict, and today we see conflicts on different fronts,” he added. “We constantly call on the international community to assume its responsibilities and stop this war.”

The region is braced for the potential escalation of violence as Israel mulls its response to an attack by Iran over the weekend in retaliation to a suspected Israeli strike on its consulate in Syria.

Source: News Agencies