Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Qatari Prime Minister

Qatar can press Hamas as no one else can … Hamas is dependent on them financially.

By Shula Rosen

Speaking to a conference of US Jewish Leaders, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said pressure on Qatar was crucial to secure release of Israeli hostages.

He told Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations in Jerusalem on Sunday, “I urge you to press Qatar to press Hamas because we want our hostages released.”

“Qatar can press Hamas as no one else can. They host Hamas leaders. Hamas is dependent on them financially,” Netanyahu said.

He added, “The release of hostages can be achieved through strong military action and tough negotiations, very tough negotiations.”

Netanyahu explained, “That tough position has to involve the exertion of pressure. And the exertion of pressure is not merely on Hamas itself, but on those who can exert pressure on Hamas, beginning with Qatar.”

Negotiations for the release of the more than 130 hostages still in Gaza hit a roadblock when Hamas demanded the release of 5,000 prisoners, a permanent ceasefire and a complete withdrawal of IDF troops from the Gaza Strip.

Netanyahu called Hamas’s demands “delusional” and decided not to send a second delegation to Cairo for further negotiations until Hamas softened its stance.

After weeks of indicating hostage negotiations were promising, Qatar’s Prime Minister declared that a truce deal with Israel “should not be conditioned” on an agreement for the release of hostages.”

Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani told the Munich Security Conference, “This is the dilemma that we’ve been in and unfortunately that’s been misused by a lot of countries, that in order to get a ceasefire, it’s conditional to have the hostage deal. It shouldn’t be conditioned.”

However, it was Hamas that demanded release of hostages be conditioned on a permanent ceasefire, a demand Israel rejected.

In late January, Qatari Foreign Ministry spokesman Majed al-Ansari accused Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of sabotaging the negotiations, conducted with Qatar acting as a broker.

In response to Netanyahu’s criticism of Qatar and urging the Biden Administration to urge Qatar to put pressure on Hamas, al-Ansari said he was appalled” by Netanyahu’s comments, calling them “irresponsible and destructive to the efforts to save innocent lives.”