WikiLeaks Cables: You Can't Blame Israel for Mistrusting Arabs, Says Qatari Ruler

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Israelis can't be blamed for mistrusting Arabs, according to remarks by the ruler of the Arab state of Qatar released by the WikiLeaks group in the latest of a string of surprising revelations.

Qatar's Emir, Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, made the comments in a meeting with U.S. Senator John Kerry on February 23. A report of their discussions, obtained by the WikiLeaks group, was filed by America's Ambassador to Qatar Joseph LeBaron.

The Emir of Qatar: Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, October 27, 2010.Credit: AP

The cable said:

"The Israeli leaders need to represent the people of Israel, who themselves do not trust Arabs. The Emir said this is understandable and 'we can't blame them' because the Israelis have been 'under threat' for a long time.'

According to the document, the Emir told Kerry that the time was ripe for an Israeli-Arab peace - and that in his opinion, the best way to achieve this was for Israel to reopen negotiations with Syria via Turkish mediation.

"In Qatar's view, now is the time to reach out to Damascus. The Syrian Government can help Arab extremists make tough choices, but only if the U.S., whose involvement is essential, demonstrates to Syria early on a willingness to address the return of the Golan Heights and supports Turkey's mediation efforts between Israel and Syria," the classified cable said.

Syria could be weaned away from its major ally, Iran, and had only turned to the Iranians because it had "nowhere else to go," al-Khalifa said.

The Qatari Emir also told Kerry that his nation could help push Hamas towards peace. Although Qatar did not "share Hamas' ideology," it could play a valuable role as an intermediary, the Emir said.

He went on to say that given the perceived victories for Hamas and Hezbollah, viewed across the Arab world as having driven Israel out of Gaza and southern Lebanon, Israelis deserved credit for still pursuing peace.

"When you consider that many in the region perceive that Hezbollah drove Israel out of Lebanon and Hamas kicked them [...] out "of the small piece of land called Gaza," it is actually surprising that the Israelis still want peace. The region, however, is still "far away" from peace, concluded the Emir."

Qatar severed ties with Israel in early 2009 in reponse the Israeli invasion of Gaza.

But another leaked cable quotes the head of the Middle East division of the Foreign Ministry, Yaakov Hadas, as saying that pressure on Qatar to renew relations was beginning to bear fruit.

Qatar had invited Hadas to Doha to discuss reopening the Israeli mission in the country, the cable said.

"The Qataris need to understand that they cannot expect Israeli cooperation without agreeing to reopen the Israeli mission," Hadas was quoted as saying.