December 6, 2023 | Flash Brief

Qatar’s Leverage on Hamas Falters, Hostages Remain

December 6, 2023 | Flash Brief

Qatar’s Leverage on Hamas Falters, Hostages Remain

Latest Developments

Qatar, a state sponsor of Hamas, is seeking to remain relevant in the Hamas-Israel war. Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani told Gulf leaders on December 5 that the United Nations Security Council should force Israel back to the negotiating table with Hamas. “We are constantly working to renew” the pause in fighting between Israel and Hamas, the emir said. “But truces are not an alternative for a comprehensive ceasefire.”

Qatar, a state sponsor of Hamas, helped broker a seven-day pause in fighting that began on November 24, during which Hamas released 81 Israeli hostages, most of them women and children. Hamas formally ended the pause on December 1, launching numerous rockets at Israeli communities near Gaza. On December 2, Israel’s Mossad announced it was withdrawing the Israeli negotiating team from Doha. Approximately 138 hostages remain in captivity.

Expert Analysis

“As an ally, sponsor, and host of Hamas, Qatar’s primary objective is to save the terror group before it’s destroyed. American blood is already on Doha’s hands and Qatar’s terror sponsorship must end before more blood is spilled.” — Richard Goldberg, FDD Senior Advisor

“The experience of having 240 hostages held by Hamas has been a trauma for Israel. While some hostages have come home, most remain captive in Gaza. Hamas’s patron, Qatar, has played a key role in funding and empowering the terrorist organization and now wishes to play the role of mediator. While Israel has no choice but to use the Qatari channel in the hope of bringing more Israelis home, the Jewish state understands Qatar’s role in the events of October 7. When the dust settles after the war, Israel’s posture toward the Gulf state will look very different.” — Enia Krivine, Senior Director of FDD’s Israel Program and National Security Network

Israel Disillusioned With Qatar

Israeli Minister for Diaspora Affairs and Combatting Antisemitism Amichai Chikli told The Jerusalem Post on December 5 that Israel should not allow Qatar to serve as a mediator during the ongoing war. “It’s as if the U.S. would turn to Pakistan, which once harbored Bin Laden, for moderation on behalf of itself, and I find this notion quite implausible,” Chikli said. On November 29, an Israeli foreign ministry official said Israel “will settle scores” with Qatar. On December 3, Israeli media aired a recording of Ronen Bar, the head of the Shin Bet, vowing to target Hamas leaders in Qatar.

Washington Thankful for Qatari Mediation

The Biden administration continues to thank Doha for its diplomatic services despite Qatari ties to Hamas. During a call with Sheikh Tamim on December 2, Vice President Kamala Harris “thanked the Amir for his efforts in securing a deal between Israel and Hamas that provided an extended pause in the fighting.” On October 21, Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressed gratitude for Qatar’s “important assistance” in securing the release of two American hostages, Judith and Natalie Raanan. Blinken “reiterated his thanks” to Doha on November 4, according to a State Department statement.

Stop With the Nice Words on Qatar,” by Jonathan Schanzer

A U.S. Ultimatum for Qatar: Stop Sheltering Hamas,” by Richard Goldberg

U.S. Wrong to Involve Qatar and Turkey in Israeli Hostage Negotiations,” FDD Flash Brief


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