Palestinians react at the site of an Israeli strike on a house, in Rafah

Palestinians react at the site of an Israeli strike on a house, in Rafah

Reuters: Qatar is re-evaluating its role as mediator in ceasefire talks between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas, citing concerns that its efforts are being undermined by politicians seeking to score points, its prime minister said on Wednesday.

Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, who is also foreign minister, said there was a "misuse of this mediation for narrow political interests, and this necessitated Qatar to undertake a full evaluation of this role".

Sheikh Mohammed did not identify any politicians by name.

Qatar's embassy in Washington on Tuesday criticised comments made by U.S. Democratic congressman Steny Hoyer, in which he called on the U.S. to "reevaluate" its relationship with Qatar.

Hoyer said on Monday that Qatar must threaten Hamas with "repercussions" if the militant Palestinian group "continues to block progress towards releasing the hostages and establishing a temporary ceasefire".

Some other U.S. lawmakers have suggested in recent months that Qatar supports Hamas, an accusation rejected by the Gulf state, which hosts some 10,000 U.S. troops, the largest U.S. military presence in the Middle East.

Sheikh Mohammed underscored on Wednesday that the role of mediator has limits: "(Mediators) cannot provide things that the parties themselves refrain from (offering)."

Earlier on Wednesday Sheikh Mohammed said the talks on a Gaza ceasefire and a release of hostages were at a "delicate phase".

"We are trying as much as possible to address this stumbling block," he added, without giving further details.

Qatar's premier also condemned what he described as a policy of "collective punishment" being pursued by Israel in its war in Gaza against Hamas as well as the latest escalation of violence in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

The ceasefire discussions, mediated by Qatar and Egypt, are being held against the backdrop of a humanitarian disaster in Gaza, where Palestinians are suffering severe shortages of food, medicine and other essentials.

The war was triggered when Hamas attacked southern Israel from Gaza on Oct. 7, killing 1,200 people and taking 253 hostages into the enclave, according to Israeli tallies.

Israel has retaliated by pounding Gaza in an air and ground offensive which has killed almost 34,000 Palestinians, according to Gaza health authorities.

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