In a leaked audio recording, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is heard criticizing Qatar’s role in negotiating the release of captives held by Hamas. The families of Israelis held captive in Gaza have denied being behind the leak and have expressed concerns about the recording’s implications.
Haim Rubinstein, a spokesperson for the families, stated that all conversations with the Prime Minister are recorded by his office and associates present at the meeting. He also noted that the families had their phones taken at the entrance, raising questions about how the leak occurred. The Prime Minister’s office originally blamed one of the family members for the leak and claimed to have evidence in the form of a text message from one of their members present at the meeting.
In the leaked audio, Netanyahu is heard criticizing Qatar’s involvement in the release of captives and expressing frustration over the US decision to extend a military base presence in the Gulf state. The spokesperson for Qatar’s foreign ministry, Majed Al-Ansari, responded to the remarks, expressing dismay and emphasizing the detrimental impact on ongoing negotiations for the release of captives.
Following the release of more than 100 captives in late November as part of a deal negotiated by Qatar and the US, efforts are ongoing to secure a new deal for the release of roughly 130 captives still held by Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups. Al-Ansari emphasized that Netanyahu’s leaked comments were hindering these mediation efforts and prioritizing political gain over saving innocent lives.