The Qatari Prime Minister welcomed the response of the Palestinian group Hamas as “positive” to the tentative agreement on a possible new ceasefire in the Gaza Strip and the exchange of hostages with Israel.
“We have received Hamas’ response to the framework agreement,” Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani told a joint news conference in Doha with visiting US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who is touring the region to push for a ceasefire. “Hamas’ response has caveats, but is generally positive,” he added.
The Qatari prime minister mentioned progress in the negotiations but declined to provide further details. “We are working to reach an agreement as soon as possible in cooperation with our partners in Cairo and Washington,” he said. “The war in Gaza must end and we do not want an escalation in the region or a threat to international shipping.”
The war began after a cross-border offensive by Hamas on October 7, in which around 1,200 people were killed and around 240 were taken hostage.
During a week-long truce in November, about half of the hostages were released in exchange for 240 Palestinian prisoners.
Since then, Israeli attacks have killed more than 27,000 Palestinians, and about 85% of Gaza’s population of 2.3 million have been displaced, according to the UN.
Last week, the head of Hamas’ political bureau, Ismail Haniyeh, confirmed that he had received a proposal hammered out at a meeting in Paris in late January to end fighting in the blockaded Palestinian enclave.