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A top Qatari official urges Israel and Hamas to do more to reach a cease-fire deal

The sides have held numerous rounds of negotiations since, none of which produced an additional truce. In a sign of its frustration, Qatar earlier this month said it was reassessing its role as mediator.

qutarTEL AVIV: A senior Qatari official has urged both Israel and Hamas to show “more commitment and more seriousness” in cease-fire negotiations in interviews with Israeli media, as pressure builds on both sides to move toward a deal that would set Israeli hostages free and bring potential respite in the nearly 7-month-long war in Gaza.

The interviews with liberal daily Haaretz and Israeli public broadcaster Kan were published and aired Saturday evening. They came as Israel still promises to invade Gaza’s southernmost city of Rafah despite global concern for hundreds of thousands of Palestinians sheltering there, and as the sides are exchanging proposals surrounding a cease-fire deal.

Qatar, which hosts Hamas headquarters in Doha, has been a key intermediary throughout the Israel-Hamas war. Along with the U.S. and Egypt, Qatar was instrumental in helping negotiate a brief halt to the fighting in November that led to the release of dozens of hostages.

The sides have held numerous rounds of negotiations since, none of which produced an additional truce. In a sign of its frustration, Qatar earlier this month said it was reassessing its role as mediator.

In the interviews, Qatar’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Majed al-Ansari expressed disappointment in both Hamas and Israel, saying each side has made its decisions based on political interests and not with the good of civilians in mind.

“We were hoping to see more commitment and more seriousness on both sides,” he told Haaretz.

He did not reveal details of the current state of the talks, other than to say they have “effectively stopped,” with “both sides entrenched in their positions.”

“If there is a renewed sense of commitment on both sides, I’m sure we can reach a deal,” he said.

The Israeli journalists conducted the interviews in Qatar, which has no formal diplomatic ties with Israel.

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