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Qatar says negotiations 'ongoing' for Gaza truce

By AFP - Mar 27,2024 - Last updated at Mar 27,2024

DOHA — Mediator Qatar said on Tuesday that talks between Hamas and Israel on a Gaza truce and hostage release are continuing, despite the warring parties trading blame over the lack of headway.

Foreign ministry spokesperson Majed Al Ansari said the talks were "ongoing", adding there had not been "any development that would lead to thinking that one of the teams has pulled out of the negotiations".

Qatar, with the United States and Egypt, has been engaged in weeks of behind-the-scenes talks in a bid to secure a truce in Gaza and the release of Israeli hostages in exchange for Palestinian prisoners being held in Israeli jails.

Since the UN Security Council adopted a resolution on Monday demanding an "immediate ceasefire", Hamas and Israel have traded blame for their failure to agree a deal.

Hamas said Netanyahu and his Cabinet were "entirely responsible for the failure of negotiation efforts and for preventing an agreement from being reached up until now".

Netanyahu's office hit back on X, charging that Hamas was "not interested in continuing negotiations" as it had been emboldened by the Security Council vote.

Ansari told a Doha news conference that Qatar welcomed the UN resolution, which he said had not had “any immediate effect on the talks”.

A source briefed on the talks told AFP that “officials from Israel’s Mossad spy agency remain in Doha for negotiations mediated by Qatar and Egypt on a Gaza truce and hostage releases”.

The source, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the discussions, said “only part of the Mossad team was returning to Israel for consultations on developments in the talks”.

Ansari said “regardless of the comings and goings of these teams, the meetings are still ongoing here in Doha and I can confirm that part of the negotiating teams are still here in Doha conducting negotiations as we speak”.

The war began when Hamas launched an unprecedented attack on Israel that resulted in about 1,160 deaths, according to an AFP tally of Israeli official figures.

Israel’s military has waged a retaliatory offensive against Hamas that has killed 32,414 people in Gaza, most of them women and children, according to the territory’s health ministry.

Palestinian militants seized about 250 Israeli and foreign hostages during the October 7 attack on Israel, but dozens were released during a week-long truce in November.

Israel believes about 130 remain in Gaza, including 33 who are presumed dead — eight soldiers and 25 civilians.


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