Gaza ceasefire talks stalled due to Rafah operations, Qatar PM says

DOHA, Qatar — Talks aimed at securing a ceasefire in Gaza have reached a stalemate following Israel’s operations in Rafah, according to Qatar’s Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani. Speaking at an economic forum in Doha on Tuesday, Sheikh Mohammed highlighted recent setbacks, noting that the situation had almost ground to a halt.

“This month’s Israeli operations in Rafah, which shut down a major aid crossing from Egypt, have exacerbated an already critical situation,” he said. “We had seen some momentum building in recent weeks, but unfortunately, things did not move in the right direction, and the events in Rafah have pushed us backward.”

Sheikh Mohammed, whose country has played a key role in mediating between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas during the seven-month conflict, reaffirmed Qatar’s commitment to mediation. “We make it very clear for everyone: our role is strictly limited to mediation, and we will continue in this capacity,” he stated.

The primary sticking point in negotiations, according to Mohammed, is the issue of hostages and the continuation of the war. “There is one party that wants to end the war and then discuss the hostages, and another that wants to secure the release of the hostages while continuing the conflict. Without common ground on these issues, reaching an agreement will remain elusive,” he explained.

Health officials in Hamas-ruled Gaza report that more than 34,000 Palestinians have died in the ongoing assault. The conflict erupted on Oct. 7 when Hamas militants launched attacks on Israel, killing 1,200 and taking 252 hostages. According to Israeli figures, 133 hostages are believed to still be held in Gaza.