Palestinian President Abbas In Qatar For Ceasefire Talks


Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has arrived in Doha for talks on securing a ceasefire in Gaza with the Qatari Emir, whose country has been at the heart of mediation efforts between Israel and Hamas.

The official Palestinian news agency Wafa said Abbas would meet Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani on Monday, but did not say if he would also meet leaders of Hamas, a group that has long been at odds with Abbas and his West Bank-based Fatah group.

The Palestinian Ambassador to Qatar, Munir Ghannam, told Voice of Palestine radio on Sunday that Abbas and the emir would discuss efforts to secure a Gaza ceasefire with Israel and ways to increase aid for the territory’s 2.3 million people.

“Qatar plays an important role in the international efforts and mediation to reach a ceasefire. Therefore, coordination with Qatar, also with Egypt, is of special importance, to bring an end to this aggression against our people,” Ghannam said.

Qatar hosts the head of Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh, as well as another senior leader in the group, Khaled Meshaal, who handles diaspora affairs in the Hamas political office.

The visit comes as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promises to advance plans for a ground offensive on Rafah, despite growing international alarm at the potential consequences for the 1.4 million Palestinian civilians crammed in the city in Southern Gaza.

The United States, Israel’s key international ally, has warned that an attack on Rafah could be a “disaster” and United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned that Palestinian civilians in the city had “nowhere to go”.

Egypt warned of “dire consequences” of a potential Israeli military assault on the south Gaza city of Rafah near its border.

Egypt called for the necessity of uniting all international and regional efforts to prevent the targeting of the Palestinian city of Rafah,” its Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Mohammed Nazzal, a senior Hamas figure, said Netanyahu “wants the war to continue to stay in power, and doesn’t want to lose his right-wing coalition”.