GOP senator, Qatar ambassador spar over Hamas in Doha

A Republican senator and the Qatari ambassador to the U.S. argued back and forth on social media Monday, with the U.S. lawmaker criticizing the Gulf country for hosting Hamas while at the same time negotiating for the release of hostages held by the group in the Gaza Strip.

Sen. Ted Budd (N.C.) wrote on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, criticizing Qatar for saying a deal to release hostages being held by Hamas is close at hand while hosting political leaders of the U.S.-designated terrorist organization in Doha, adding that Hamas are “terrorists with American blood on their hands.”

But Meshal Hamad Al-Thani, ambassador of the State of Qatar to the United States, responded that he had earlier explained that the channel of communication between Qatar and Hamas was set up at the request of the U.S.

“Senator, as I explained to you when I met you last week, the channel with Hamas was established in Qatar at the request of the US to maintain open lines of communication,” AlThani wrote on X.

“We are focused on the negotiations and working hard with all sides to help release more hostages safely.”

Budd responded that he believes Hamas is stalling for time among international efforts.

“Mr. Ambassador, I appreciate the Qatari government’s efforts to get Hamas to release hostages. But Hamas terrorists are using your hospitality to buy time,” he wrote.

“We must hold Hamas accountable for the blood on its hands, the hostages they illegally hold, and the war they started. I hope we can agree on that.”

The Biden administration has praised Qatar for working assiduously to negotiate among Hamas, the U.S. and Israel for the release of an estimated 240 hostages, even as American officials have said that Doha’s historic position as a safe haven for Hamas political leaders may be in jeopardy.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said after a meeting in Qatar at the end of October that he had raised in Doha that “there can be no more business as usual with Hamas.”

And Barbara Leaf, assistant secretary of State for Near Eastern affairs, has said that Qatari officials in Doha are “absolutely” putting pressure on Hamas’s political officials living in the city.

“We have two stalwart partners, Qatar and Egypt, who are working methodically, relentlessly at this issue,” she said of efforts to secure the release of hostages. “The problem is who they’re dealing with,” she added, referring to Hamas.

“But they’re exercising every bit of their influence and energy to try and break the impasse on the hostages.”

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