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Qatar says efforts to renew Hamas-Israel truce 'continuing'

By AFP - Dec 11,2023 - Last updated at Dec 11,2023

A photo taken from southern Israel near the border with the Gaza Strip on Sunday, shows smoke rising during bombardments as well as a flare fired by Israeli forces falling on Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip, amid ongoing Israeli strikes against the besieged strip (AFP photo)

DOHA — Mediation efforts are continuing to secure a new Gaza ceasefire despite ongoing Israeli bombardment that is "narrowing the window" for a successful outcome, Qatar's prime minister said on Sunday.

"Our efforts as the state of Qatar along with our partners are continuing. We are not going to give up," Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman Al Thani told the Doha Forum more than two months into the Israeli war on the Gaza Strip.

Qatar was a key mediator in negotiations that resulted in a seven-day truce, which saw scores of Israeli hostages exchanged for Palestinian prisoners and humanitarian aid, until it ended at the start of the month.

Israel declared war on Gaza Hamas after the resistance group’s surprise October 7 attack on Israel and taking 240 hostages, according to Israeli occupation figures. The Israeli offensive has killed at least 17,700 people in Gaza, most of them women and children, according to the health ministry in Gaza.

"We are going to continue, we are committed to have hostages released, but we are also committed to stop the war," the Qatari premier said.

But, he added, "we are not seeing the same willingness from both parties" and "the continuation of the bombardment is just narrowing this window for us".

Addressing the Doha Forum earlier, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the Security Council was "paralysed by geostrategic divisions" that were undermining solutions to the conflict.


UN chief's pledge 


The body's "authority and credibility were severely undermined" by its delayed response to the war, he said two days after a US veto prevented a resolution calling for a Gaza ceasefire.

"I reiterated my appeal for a humanitarian ceasefire to be declared," he told the forum.

"Regrettably, the Security Council failed to do it," he added.

“I can promise, I will not give up.”

Guterres had convened an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council after two months of fighting in Gaza.

He deployed the rarely used Article 99 of the United Nations Charter that allows the secretary-general to bring to the council’s attention “any matter which in his opinion may threaten the maintenance of international peace and security”.

The rule had not been invoked by a UN chief in decades.

In a virtual address, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Sunday that although Moscow had condemned Hamas’ October 7 sudden attack, “we do not believe it’s acceptable to use this event for collective punishment against the millions of Palestinian people”.

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said the United States is as responsible as Israel for civilian deaths in Gaza.

“For the United States to block a United Nations Security Council resolution, one should hold the Americans responsible” for the deadly violence, he said.

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