A spokesman for Qatar’s diplomacy said on Wednesday night that the emirate’s authorities were “horrified” by statements attributed to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu regarding Doha’s mediating role in the war in the Gaza Strip.

During a meeting with family members of hostages this week, Mr Netanyahu criticized Qatar, which is mediating with Egypt and the US and helped seal the week-long truce deal in late November that allowed the release of more than 100 of Hamas hostages.

“You didn’t hear me thank Qatar (…) It’s essentially no different from the United Nations or the Red Cross and it’s even more problematic. I have no illusions,” Mr Netanyahu told the families, according to an audio recording obtained by Israel’s Channel 12 television network.

“They (including Qatar) have the means to put pressure (on Hamas). Why; Because they are funding it,” Mr. Netanyahu continued, also declaring that he was “very angry” about Washington’s decision to renew for ten years the agreement on the American military presence in the Gulf emirate.

“We are horrified by the comments attributed to the Israeli prime minister in various media regarding Qatar’s mediating role. If these comments are verified, they are irresponsible and destructive to efforts to save innocent lives,” Qatar’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Majid al-Ansari said via X (formerly Twitter).

Qatar, Egypt and the US are currently brokering a new ceasefire in the Gaza Strip to allow the release of the hundred-plus hostages remaining there and more humanitarian aid to the civilian population of the Palestinian enclave.

If the statements attributed to him were indeed made, “the Israeli prime minister did nothing but undermine the mediation process, for reasons that seem to serve his political career” rather than “the Israeli hostages,” Mr. Ansari insisted, adding that Mr. Netanyahu need not “worry about Qatar’s strategic relations with the US.”

Qatar hosts on its territory the headquarters of the United States’ joint command in charge of the Middle East region (CENTCOM, “Central Command”), at the Al Udeid military base, and allows the docking of US naval vessels that patrol in the Gulf.

At the same time, the Emirate hosts the political leadership of Hamas and has in recent years allocated hundreds of millions of dollars worth of aid to the Gaza Strip, which has been ruled by the Palestinian Islamist movement since 2007.