Monday, September 05, 2011

Israel decides to break off all ties with Qatar

Translation of the article in Hebrew that originally appeared at
By Eli Brandenstein

Report of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs establishes that the rich emirate harbors anti-Israel feelings and donated millions of dollars to Hamas. As a response the government has decided to implement a break-off of ties in all levels.

The government of Israel has taken off its gloves and is ready for a fight to defend its stance before Qatar, that regarding the settlements and Gaza, in Israel and the world. A classified report was prepared by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs detailing the consolidation of growing strong opinions against Qatar in the government of Israel. Israel considers actions in the near future against the emirate, defined as hostile to Israel.

The main reason behind the break-off with Qatar is its anti-Israel activities of Qatar in the world, stressing the great deal of political and legal assistance that Qatar provides to Palestinians from within the Arab league in preparation for the unilateral process of declaration of Palestinian statehood to take place at the UN in September.

It appears that the ministry in Jerusalem has worked in the last couple of months in halting the Qatari influence in the region, and thwarted a couple of projects with Qatari funding in Israel and the territories. Already before, the government had decided to close down in March the representation office in Doha. The closure of the office included a termination of the rental agreement and firing two local employees. According to the report, this action, exacerbated the tension about Israel. Additionally, Israel has also blocked access of Qatari officials to Israel or the Palestinian territories.

In the report it is stated that Qatar maintains deep connections with Hamas, that include among other things, frequent visits to Doha by the organization's leader, Khadel Mashal. According to a top Jerusalem official, 'We will not put up with Qatar's wide scope of anti-Israel actions'. Qatar today is one of the main actors in the boycott against Israel in the international scenario.

In December 2008, after operations in Gaza, Qatar decided among tensions in the Arab world, to break off ties with Israel. In January 2009 Qatar expelled Israeli diplomat Roy Rosenblatt, from the representative mission in Doha.

Nonetheless, Qatar still allowed Israel to keep its office and two local employees, in order to not cause further damage to the relations between the two countries. The ministry argues that the continued relationships had no other effect or purpose than that of allowing Qatar to be active in the Palestinian territories, creating only more tension for Israel.

After relations came to an end with Israel, the Qataris send a number of requests for renewal of ties in order to follow through with some projects in Gaza and to bring into Gaza construction supplies, and this way, clarified its position vis-a-vis affairs in the Middle East. The request was turned down by Netanyahu and Lieberman. A couple of months ago,the Israeli prime minister and his Qatari counterpart met in Paris together Sarkozy, however it seems that the meeting had no positive outcome. 

The decision of taking action against Qatar was received by the top level officials at the ministry, and by the minister himself. According to one official, 'We will not put up with Qatar's wide scope of anti-Israel actions'. Qatar today is one of the main actors in the boycott against Israel in the international scenario, hence it is not possible to continue unmolested and behave as if there were normal relations. 

A list of the measures taken against Qatar was consolidated after consultations with different experts in Israel, who agreed that Qatar is acting in detriment of Israel. According to the secret report, among Qatar's activities in the anti-Israel front include central influence in the legal arrangements prior to the bid for Palestine's statehood at the UN in September. Qatar, it seems, also maintains deep relationship with the Hamas movement, that includes visits by Hamas leader to Qatar. 

According to their information, Qatar is responsible for funding of projects in Gaza such as El-Fahoura, which is a place to provide assistance to students and also dormitories, in order to battle the Gaza blockade. However, through a charitable foundation Qatar also sends money to Hamas, and transferred over a million euros to the organization this year.

Other activities in which Qatar is engaged deal with strengthening anti-Israel activities connected to the Turkish flotilla. In this context, a congress was sponsored in which legal experts debated the possibilities and consequences of legal actions against Israel. Qatar has also promoted anti-Israel opinions through its TV network Al-Jazera. According to the ministry, Al-Jazera provides a platform for inflated anti-Israel opinions. It is also said that Qatar hosts multi-religious forums in which an anti-Israel agenda is promoted.

In compliance, because of the inclinations of Al-Jazera toward demonization of Israel, the government will not allow journalists from Al-Jazera to be active in Israel. As of today, journalists of the network can come to Israel only if they hold passports from countries with which Israel has normal relations. It seems that no more workers from the network will be allowed into Israel in the future.

The measures were not limited only to publicity, but also to security. From now on there will be no more cooperation between Qatar and the military industries in Israel. They had extensive contacts in the past and sold military equipment from Israeli industries. From now on no more sales weapons to Qatar.

The ministries of Foreign Affairs and Defense, in a joint decision, decided lately not to withdraw the Qatar Foundation from the list of organizations that are not permitted to be active in the territories. The foundation is a large charitable fund, property of the Emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani. In spite of a request from Qatar, Israel will no longer permit them to work in the Palestinian territories.

Until now, Israel used to allow Qatari officials to join certain events in Israel and the territories, under the cover of sponsors. These envoys visited on behalf of organization such as the Jordanian Foundation, the Red Cross and the Red Crescent. The report states that it will be no longer allowed for Qatari officials to be part of such missions. Lately, for example, Israel did not allow the Qatari mobile phone company QTEL to enter the territories.

The last measures that was decided upon, according to the report, was action against the legitimacy of Qatar in the international scenario. It is not a simple challenge: This year Qatar won the bid for the Worldcup in 2022.

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