Smotrich accused Western governments of being “hypocritical” in maintaining close relations with Doha. Image Credit: REUTERS

JERUSALEM: Israel’s far-right Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich on Thursday accused Qatar, a key mediator in efforts to free its hostages, of being responsible for the October 7 Hamas attack.

His comments came after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was caught on tape allegedly telling hostages’ families this week that Qatar’s mediation was “problematic” when it came to resolving the hostage crisis.

Click here to get exclusive content with Gulf News WhatsApp channel

“You haven’t seen me thank Qatar, have you noticed? I haven’t thanked Qatar. Why? Because Qatar, to me, is no different in essence from the UN, from the Red Cross and in a way it’s even more problematic. However, I’m willing to use any mediator now who can help me bring them (the hostages) home.”

Qatar is the “patron of Hamas and is largely responsible for the massacre committed by Hamas of Israeli citizens”, Smotrich said on X, formerly Twitter.

Also read

Smotrich accused Western governments of being “hypocritical” in maintaining close relations with Doha.

“The West can and should exert much stronger leverage on it and bring about the release of the hostages immediately,” he said.

“One thing is clear: Qatar will not be involved one bit in what happens in Gaza the day after the war.”

Qatar ‘appalled’

Qatar and Egypt have acted as mediators in the conflict since it erupted after the Hamas attack. In November, they helped broker a week-long truce that saw the release of 105 hostages, the Israelis among them in exchange for Palestinian prisoners.

Smotrich’s remarks come as US President Joe Biden’s Middle East envoy Brett McGurk was in the region for talks aimed at brokering a new deal to free the remaining captives in exchange for a pause in fighting.

A Palestinian source familiar with the talks said a Hamas delegation had travelled to Cairo on Tuesday to meet Egypt’s intelligence chief and discuss new ceasefire proposals.

On Wednesday, Qatar said it was “appalled” by the remarks attributed to Netanyahu. “We are appalled by the alleged remarks attributed to the Israeli Prime Minister in various media reports about Qatar’s mediation role,” Qatar’s foreign ministry spokesperson, Majed Al Ansari, said on social media platform X.

“If the reported remarks are found to be true, the Israeli PM would only be obstructing and undermining the mediation process, for reasons that appear to serve his political career instead of prioritizing saving innocent lives, including Israeli hostages,” he wrote