Palestinians pressuring Oman, Qatar not to recognize Israel

Mahmoud Abbas trying to stem the tide of Arab states bypassing the Palestinian issue and normalizing ties with Israel.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

Palestinian leaders visited Qatar and Oman on Monday in a bid to “stop the train of normalization” with Israel, the Saudi Arabian news website Elaph reported.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas met with Qatar’s leader Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani in Doha, and senior PA official Jibril Rajoub traveled to Oman in a bid to get those two countries to not join other states that have normalized relations with Israel, a senior Palestinian official told Elaph.

“In light of talk about Qatar’s and Oman’s intention to sign peace treaties with Israel like the UAE, Bahrain and Morocco,” Abbas called on the Qatari leader not to establish diplomatic relations with Israel unless there was progress on the Palestinian issue, the report said.

Palestinian sources indicated that there has been a change in Abbas’ approach to the normalization of ties between Arab and Gulf countries and Israel. The Palestinians have moved from denouncing the ties and branding them as “betrayal” to holding direct talks with other Arab leaders in a bid to persuade them to abandon normalization in the final days of the Trump administration before President-elect Joe Biden moves into the White House on January 20.

For his part, al-Thani tweeted a short statement saying he told Abbas “of Qatar’s stance in support of the Palestinian people and their just cause, and in support of achieving peace on the basis of the Arab initiative, the two-state solution and international legitimacy decisions.”

Qatar and Israel have had unofficial contacts for several years. Qatar acts as a mediator to keep the lid on pressures in the Gaza Strip by pumping in tens of millions of dollars of cash in monthly transfers to support Gaza’s impoverished population and forestall a revolt against the Hamas terror group that runs Gaza.

At the same time Qatar and its Gulf neighbors have been at loggerheads for the past several years. Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Cooperation Council member states severed ties with Qatar over allegations it helps fund the Muslim Brotherhood, the parent organization of Hamas and considered a terror group by several Arab countries.

Earlier this month, President Trump’s senior advisor Jared Kushner, who helped broker the peace accords with Israel, visited Saudi Arabia and Qatar in a bid to end the strife between the Arab neighbors.

“We have made significant progress in the last few days,” Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud said afterwards. Saudi Arabia has not publicly endorsed the Gulf states peace ties with Israel, but at the same time has made overt moves to embrace the change including a secret meeting on Saudi soil last month with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.