Qatari diplomat in Jerusalem says he secretly visited Israel 20 times since 2014

Qatari ambassador visiting Israel stresses how Qatar is not colluding with Hamas, saying, “If we were helping Hamas, do you think the Israelis would allow us to go in and out? They know we’re not helping Hamas.”

By Reuters and Israel Hayom Staff

 

Israel Qatar is helping Israel avoid another Gaza war by funneling relief money to impoverished Palestinians, with Washington’s blessing, a Qatari diplomat said on Thursday, in an effort to demonstrate Doha’s distance from Islamist Gaza rulers Hamas.

Qatari envoy Mohammed Al-Emadi interviewed in Jerusalem, on 22 Feb 2018 – Photo: Reuters

Since coming under an embargo last year, imposed by its U.S.-allied Gulf Arab neighbors, Qatar has made its aid to the Gaza Strip – and the coordination with Israel needed for disbursement – a focus of its diplomatic contacts with the Trump administration.

“Gaza is on the verge of collapsing,” Qatari Ambassador Mohammed Al-Emadi said in an interview in Jerusalem after he met Israel’s Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi and security officials.

“This is what we are preventing – a war, the next war. We don’t want the next war,” he said of some $800 million in Qatari assistance to Gaza since the last conflict, in 2014.

“The work that we are doing is keeping peace for both nations,” said the Qatari relief director for the Gaza Strip.

Israel has voiced alarm at the deepening poverty in Gaza, which it and neighboring Egypt keep under embargo as a precaution against Hamas arms-smuggling efforts.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt cut diplomatic and commercial ties with Qatar in June for allegedly supporting terrorist groups such as Hamas, meddling in their internal affairs and backing regional foe Iran’s agenda.

Qatar denies all the accusations and pushed back with outreach to the United States, including several leaders of the pro-Israel Jewish community in the U.S.

“If we were helping Hamas, do you think the Israelis [would] allow us to go in and come out?” Al-Emadi asked. “It’s impossible. They know we are not helping Hamas.”

Yielding to Israeli and U.S. requests, Qatar ceased hosting Deputy Hamas leader Saleh al-Arouri, the Qatari official noted. He added that “every single penny” of Qatari money given to Gaza was monitored to ensure it is spent solely on humanitarian needs.

“We feed Washington the correct information about what we are doing, and these people … right away, they are with us,” Al-Emadi said. Qatar’s image, he added, “is improved, because … when we tell them what is there on the ground, what we are doing [in Gaza], it is good work.”

Al-Emadi said he has visited Israel 20 times since 2014. The trips were previously kept under wraps, but the envoy has been increasingly visible in recent months.

By contrast, Israeli officials declined to comment on Al-Emadi’s visits, a reticence that one diplomatic source attributed to their reluctance to upset other Arab powers.

 

View original Israel Hayom publication at:
http://www.israelhayom.com/2018/02/23/qatari-gaza-relief-preventing-the-next-war-diplomat-says/

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