Top US Jewish leader secretly visits Qatar to release missing Israelis and bodies in Gaza

Malcolm Hoenlein, a top US Jewish leader secretly visited Qatar in effort to secure release of Israeli soldiers whose bodies are being held in the Gaza Strip.

By: World Israel News Staff

An American Jewish leader has reportedly made a secret visit to Qatar to negotiate the release of the bodies of two Israeli soldiers killed in the Gaza War in 2014.

Malcolm Hoenlein, vice president of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, told The Jerusalem Post in an exclusive interview that he was in Qatar a few weeks ago, where he met with Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. Hoenlein reportedly maintains close relations with Prime Minister Netanyahu and is said to maintain covert contacts with leaders in Arab and Muslim countries. He also meets regularly with the leaders of Egypt, Jordan and Turkey.

In the past, according to the Post, Hoenlein has asked Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to use his influence over Hamas in order to secure the return of the bodies of IDF soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oren Shaul as well as Israeli civilians Avera Mengistu and Hisham Abu-Sayid, prisoners held by Hamas who are believed to still be alive.

“While the Prime Minister’s Office was made aware of Hoenlein’s contacts with Doha, this does not mean that Israel approves of it,” the Post added.

Israel has had a bitter history with Qatar over the gulf state’s support for Hamas. For a number of years, Hamas leader Khaled Maashal has maintained a residence in Qatar. Qatar has also been a close ally of Iran.