Report: Qatar Threatened to Expel Meshal if He Agreed to Cairo Truce Draft

German development aid minister accuses Qatar of aiding Islamic State.

Jack Khoury
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Qatari Emir Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, right, welcoming Hamas leader Khaled Meshal in Doha on January 10, 2010.
Qatari Emir Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, right, welcoming Hamas leader Khaled Meshal in Doha on January 10, 2010. Credit: AFP/Qatari News Agency
Jack Khoury

Qatar pushed Hamas to renew hostilities with Israel by threatening to expel Khaled Meshal, the chief of Hamas' political bureau, if Hamas accepted the Egyptian proposal for a long-term cease-fire, the London-based pan-Arab daily Al Hayat reported Wednesday.

An unnamed source in the Palestinian delegation to Cairo said in the report that Qatar – which, like Turkey, is considered a Hamas ally – worked to undermine the talks by pressuring Hamas officials, including Meshal, not to advance negotiations.

Qatar, financially and politically, diplomatically and through Al Jazeera, is supporting a terrorist group, an Israeli official said late last month. Instead of contributing to the development of the area, they are contributing to terror in the region.

Meshal and other Hamas leaders left their longtime headquarters in Syria in 2012 because of the brutal civil war there, after which they were granted shelter by Qatar.

The fighting between Israel and Hamas resumed Tuesday, after Palestinian militants fired rockets on Israel while the cease-fire was still in effect, prompting retaliatory air strikes, Israel says. Hamas blames Israel for violating the truce by attempting to assassinate Hamas military chief Mohammed Deif in Gaza City. More than 150 rockets have been fired on Israel since Tuesday afternoon.

This isn't the first time this summer that Qatar appears to have sabotaged talks between Israel and Hamas.

In mid-July, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman told his Norwegian counterpart, Borge Brende, that Hamas was ready to consider an earlier Egyptian cease-fire proposal favorably, "but Qatar wanted to screw the Egyptians and told them not to accept it," according to a source familiar with the conversation.

Lieberman told Brende that Qatar was coordinating its activities with Turkey and that both countries were pushing Hamas to reject the Egyptian truce proposals.

"It's getting harder and harder to deny that Doha and Ankara, two long-standing allies of the United States, are full Hamas partners," Foreign Policy magazine reported early this month, referring to the capitals of Qatar and Turkey. "That much has been crystal clear to regional players like Egypt and Saudi Arabia for a while."

Indeed, the significant role that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry allowed Turkey and Qatar to play in drafting a cease-fire proposal is thought to be a major factor in Israel's rejection of the plan.

Qatar has provided shelter, support and financial assistance not only to Hamas but also to other fundamentalist Islamist groups, experts say.

"Qatar has a long history of providing shelter to Islamist groups, amongst them the Muslim Brotherhood and the Taliban," Shashank Joshi, senior research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute, a British think tank on security issues, told Time magazine last month.

And on Wednesday, Germany's development aid minister, Gerd Mueller, accused Qatar of financing the jihadist group Islamic State, operating in Syria and Iraq, AFP reported.

"A story like this always has a history," he said in an interview with public broadcaster ZDF. "Who is financing these troops? Hint: Qatar."

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