Report: Qatar and Israel growing closer over aid to Gaza

An Israeli team visited Doha and arranged for a $60 million transfer to Hamas by year’s end to buy quiet.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

An Israeli delegation met secretly with Qatari officials in Doha in recent days to ensure a steady cash supply to the government in the Gaza Strip, which Israel hopes will buy quiet on its border with the coastal enclave, Channel 13 News reported exclusively Tuesday night.

The visit ended with the Qataris agreeing to drop another $60 million into Hamas’ coffers by year’s end, said reporter Alon Ben David.

“Israel sees Qatar’s agreement to undertake the continuation of aid to the Gaza Strip as a sign of warming of ties between the two countries,” he said.

Israel has no diplomatic relations with Qatar, which is close to Turkey and Iran and supports many Islamist movements such as the Muslim Brotherhood, an extremist Islamic international group that many Arab countries, as well as Israel, have designated as a terror organization. Hamas is an offshoot of the Brotherhood.

Led by Saudi Arabia, Arab states such as Egypt, the UAE and Bahrain cut all ties with Qatar three years ago due to Doha’s “embrace of various terrorist and sectarian groups aimed at destabilizing the region,” as the Saudi government said at the time.

Ben David said that this festering issue was in the background of the agreement.

“Qatar believes Israel can help it get reaccepted into the Gulf states that are boycotting it,” he said.

Three of the four Qatari opponents have by now signed diplomatic agreements with Israel. Saudi Arabia is also undoubtedly warming publicly to Israel as it has spoken in favor of the ties and is allowing flights to and from Tel Aviv to Bahrain and the UAE to cross its airspace.

The Qataris, he continued, even threw a sweetener into the deal.

“They are not ruling out the possibility that Qatar will be among the countries that will sign a peace agreement with Israel in the near future,” he said, even though their allies are among Israel’s worst enemies.

Last month, in an interview with Bloomberg, the Qatari deputy foreign minister ruled out normalizing ties with Israel until a solution is found for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Qatar, which is the richest country in the world per capita, has donated well over a billion dollars to Hamas in the last decade, but this year may be a record. The newly announced $60 million is in addition to the $50 million Doha reportedly gave Hamas in June with Israel’s blessing, essentially to bribe the terror organization to stop launching its latest wave of arson and explosive balloons over the border.

Since it also transferred $30 million a month to Hamas from January until August, this would bring Doha’s support for Gaza in 2020 to some $350 million – all with Israel’s active collaboration.

Channel 12 also reported on October 11 that Qatar, Israel and Hamas were developing an agreement by which Qatar would funnel $100 million to Hamas in exchange for a ceasefire of at least six months’ duration. The network said that the Israeli side was represented by the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, Maj. Gen. Kamil Abu Rukun, and Mossad head Yossi Cohen. The two “have a direct line to senior officials in Qatar,” said the report.