Scroll to the top

{{ subpage.title }}

Demonstrators hold placards as they take part in a rally calling for the release of hostages kidnapped in the deadly October 7 attack on Israel by the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas from Gaza, in Tel Aviv, Israel, February 25, 2024.

REUTERS/Dylan Martinez

Palestinian Authority PM resigns amid truce talks for Gaza

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyehtendered his resignation to President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday, in a move that could set the stage for Gaza’s future government. Meanwhile, negotiations for a temporary ceasefire in Gaza have resumed in Doha between “experts” from Israel, Egypt, Qatar, and the United States, and representatives of Hamas.

What are the terms?

According to a framework drawn up in Paris on Friday, hostilities would pause for six weeks. Hamas would release approximately 40 hostages, while Israel would free hundreds of Palestinian prisoners. Israeli troops would be “redeployed” within Gaza, but not fully withdraw as Hamas had demanded. Israel would also enable the return of Palestinian women and children to northern Gaza.

The clock is ticking

March 10 marks the start of Ramadan and is considered the unofficial deadline for the talks. War cabinet minister Benny Gantz has said Israel will expand its offensive into Rafah if there is no hostage release deal by then.

Will a deal stave off operations in Rafah?

Not necessarily. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Israel’s incursion into Rafah “will be delayed somewhat” if the parties reach a hostage deal but will still happen. According to White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, however, “the White House hasn't seen any Israeli plan for an operation in Rafah and for keeping Palestinian civilians safe,” and that no action in Rafah should go ahead in its absence.

Why did Shtayyeh resign?

Longer term, the United States has been pressuring the PA to clean up its act. Washington envisions a technocratic PA government overseeing post-war Gaza, but with its reputation for corruption and low esteem in the eyes of West Bank residents, a major government overhaul is seen as indispensable.

The Palestinian Authority has not held elections in nearly two decades, with Abbas ruling by presidential decree since the expiration of his nominally four year long term. The last time they attempted to democratically choose leadership, in 2006, Hamas won control of Gaza and pushed the Palestinian Authority out by force within a year. We have our eye on how the PA decides its future leadership, and whether a return to Gaza is even a feasible proposition.

Israeli soldiers operate in the Gaza Strip amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, in this handout picture released on January 28, 2024.

Israel Defense Forces/Handout via REUTERS

Israel and Hamas may be close to a cease-fire. Has the war already spun out?

A drone attack launched by Iran-aligned militants in Syria on Sunday killed three US soldiers stationed in Jordan, even as CIA Director William Burns was in Paris for high-level talks with Egyptian, Qatari, and Israeli officials over a possible cease-fire and hostage exchange with Hamas. The contours of any deal are not yet clear, but The New York Times reported a two-month pause in fighting in exchange for around 100 remaining hostages.

Read moreShow less

A picture taken on 20 April 2023 shows a general view of the West Bay skyline in Doha corniche at sunrise in Doha,Qatar on 20 April 2023

Noushad Thekkayil via Reuters Connect

Qatar: The little country that could

It has one of the highest per capita incomes in the world, is one of the biggest landowners in the UK, boasts a sovereign wealth fund of $475 billion, and even owns a sizable piece of the Empire State Building. And yet its population is smaller than Madrid’s.

Of all the countries in the Middle East, there’s perhaps no other that punches above its weight more than Qatar. The tiny, exorbitantly wealthy Persian Gulf nation of roughly 2.7 million people has garnered incredible regional and even global influence – and constantly seems to be involved in the biggest stories of the day.

Read moreShow less
Luisa Vieira

How Qatar became the mediator

After weeks of devastating fighting, Qatar helped mediate a temporary truce between Israel and Hamas that opened the door for exchanges of hostages and prisoners. So how has Qatar, a nation that doesn’t have official diplomatic relations with Israel, played such an outsized role in this process?

Why Qatar: The Gulf state has repeatedly served as a mediator in conflicts across the Middle East and beyond, offering itself as a bridge of communication between historic, bitter adversaries like the US and Iran, the US and the Taliban, Ukraine and Russia, and Israel and Hamas. The tiny, gas-rich, wealthy nation has sought to boost its global profile over the past decade or so by serving in this capacity – and it’s had help from the US government along the way.

Qatar is home to the largest US military base in the Middle East – Al Udeid Air Base, which the US has been operating out of since 2001 – and its role as a mediator has “been largely a strategy pursued in coordination with Washington to deal with different regional issues,” says Ayham Kamel, head of Eurasia Group’s Middle East and North Africa research team.

But it’s also in Qatar’s DNA. Mediating conflict, says Patrick Theros, former US ambassador to Qatar, is “quite literally in Qatar’s Constitution,” and it’s seen as a key part of the country’s national security strategy.

Stability starts at home. Qatar views mediation as a vital means of maintaining regional stability and reducing its own security risks. “Qatar is, by citizen population, the smallest state in the Gulf region and, per capita, the richest in the Gulf and arguably the world. It is surrounded by predatory larger and stronger neighbors,” Theros notes.

Qatar was blockaded from 2017 to 2021 by Saudi Arabia and three other Arab countries that accused Doha of supporting terror groups and of being too close to Iran. This episode highlighted the risks that Qatar’s approach to foreign affairs can pose, but those risks have also paid off in big ways.

The US, which played a role in ending the blockade, clearly sees Qatar’s desire to be a peacemaker in a prickly region as advantageous to its interests. In October, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken lauded Qatar as a “close partner” to the US on a range of crucial issues.

Doha has secured the “protection of powerful outside powers” like the US by making itself “indispensable” with its mediation efforts, Theros said.

Elements of leverage: Qatar has been engaging with Israel since the 1990s, and since 2012, it has also hosted a political office for Hamas, which Doha says was opened at the request of the US. This gives Qatar a degree of influence over the militant group, and some exiled senior Hamas officials live in Qatar, which has also poured hundreds of millions of dollars of aid into Gaza.

Doha maintains “good credible relations with a lot of less than nice parties” that Washington can’t engage with directly and has hosted groups like Hamas and the Taliban “at the express request of the US,” says Theros.

Some prominent Israeli politicians are not thrilled that Qatar has been tapped as a peacemaker in the conflict given its relationship with Hamas. There has also been some pushback regarding Qatar’s ties to Hamas from pro-Israel politicians in the US. But Doha maintains that keeping the Hamas office open allows Qatar to be a channel of communication, which benefits the US and Israel, as we’ve seen this past week.

“In the Israel-Hamas conflict, Qatar has proven itself to be one of the few viable channels to pressure Hamas to conduct deals on releasing Israeli hostages,” Kamel says. “At this point, the US is leveraging Qatar's influence to release as many hostages as possible while still maintaining support for Israel's objective of eliminating the Hamas threat.”

REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko

REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko

US pushes for longer Israel-Hamas truce

Top US officials are in the Middle East this week to try to prolong the fragile, temporary truce between Israel and Hamas made possible by the exchange of hostages and prisoners.

Read moreShow less
Israel-Hamas war: Hostage release doesn't mean the end is near
Israel-Hamas war: Hostage release doesn't mean the end is near | Quick Take | GZERO Media

Israel-Hamas war: Hostage release doesn't mean the end is near

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take: Hi, everybody. Ian Bremmer here and a Quick Take to kick off your week. And yes, we are back to the Israel-Gaza war and it is at least a little bit of good news with some hostages finally being released over a month and a half from when they were originally taken. That has gotten us some Palestinian prisoners released, some humanitarian aid allowed into Gaza and a ceasefire for a few days. And indeed, looks like it will now plausibly be extended for another day or two as more hostages are being let go.

Got to give Qatar a lot of credit here for playing a role in negotiating between Israel and Hamas. Not an easy thing to do. Qatar, an ally of the United States, the biggest military base on the ground, but also a government that has allowed the political leadership of Hamas to live inside their territory in peace and security as they have Taliban leadership for years. And that proves to be useful for both the Americans and the Israelis, more on that later. But is this potentially the beginning of the end of the war? And on that front, I think we have to say absolutely not for a few reasons.

Read moreShow less

Protesters hold signs demanding the liberation of hostages being held in the Gaza Strip after they were seized by Hamas gunmen on Oct. 7, in Tel Aviv, on Nov. 21, 2023, just hours before the announcement of a four-day cease-fire.

REUTERS/Amir Cohen

Israel and Hamas: A cease-fire, if you can keep it

Well, we were told to ignore all rumors about a hostage release deal until something was announced officially, so we did.

But now it’s for real: Late Wednesday, Israel’s cabinet approved a limited cease-fire with Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip in exchange for the release of some of the roughly 240 hostages that Hamas abducted during its Oct. 7 rampage through southern Israel. The deal was brokered with help from the US and Qatar.

Read moreShow less

Turkish lira banknotes are seen in this illustration photo taken in Krakow, Poland on June 1, 2022

Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Reuters

Hard Numbers: Turkey hikes rates, US strikes Syria, France sentences jailbreak legend, Qatar to execute Indians, China cracks cat caper

35: Turkey’s central bank ordered another monster rate hike on Thursday, upping the key lending benchmark by 5 percentage points to 35%. The move comes after a similar increase last month as the Central Bank struggles to tame an annual inflation rate above 60%. Since President Erdogan was reelected in May, he’s allowed the bank to drop his “actually high interest rates cause inflation” approach in favor of a more orthodox hawkish policy.

Read moreShow less

Subscribe to our free newsletter, GZERO Daily