While analysts were pondering on Wednesday night whether the collapse of the ceasefire was caused by a negotiating stalemate or Gazan truce violations, a possible third factor has emerged — Qatari meddling.
A senior Fatah official was quoted in the Arab daily Al-Hayat as saying that the Qatari government threatened to expel the Hamas chief Khaled Mashaal, if his delegation in Cairo acceded to the Egyptian ceasefire proposal.
Israeli officials have pointed to Mashaal as the spoiler in the talks, for goading the Hamas representatives to insist on demands Israel has repeatedly rejected.
The Fatah official told Al-Hayat that Hamas has sought to procure a seat at the negotiating table in Cairo for Qatar. Hamas wants either the Qatari foreign minister or the head of intelligence to be included in the discussions.
The suggestion of Qatari participation was likely to displease the Egyptians, who have pointedly excluded Qatar. Cairo is still demanding a Qatari apology for the government’s unfriendly policies toward Egypt since the military coup against the Muslim Brotherhood brought Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to power.