WASHINGTON – The Qatari Foreign Ministry denied on Thursday that Qatar had promised to stop Al Jazeera from airing a documentary about the "Israel lobby" in the United States.
This is the first official response from Qatar to a report published on Wednesday by Haaretz, in which five reputable sources in pro-Israel circles in Washington said Qatar had given assurances to U.S. Jewish leaders that Al Jazeera would not air the documentary.
A spokeswoman for the ministry called the Haaretz report "false news" and accused it of conspiring with the Gulf countries, led by Saudi Arabia, that have placed a blockade on Qatar. "The State of Qatar realizes that the significance and constructive role of media is conditioned upon media independence. This is precisely why Qatar's government ensured to create all the right conditions for Qatar-based media outlets to thrive independently and objectively," she said.
"Shutting down Al Jazeera has been an objective of the [Gulf countries] which own dozens of media outlets but seem unable to compete with Al Jazeera, in what should be a free market of ideas. It seems like their inability to compete and gain credibility is what is driving these campaigns to defame Qatar and its various positions,” she added.
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Haaretz stands by the report it published Wednesday. Despite the verbal assurances given to U.S. Jewish leaders by Qatar in October 2017, a number of pro-Israeli organizations received letters from Al Jazeera alerting them that they have three weeks to respond to their quotes appearing in the documentary last week.
Nick Muzin, a Washington lobbyist hired by Qatar last summer to improve its standing in Washington and within the Jewish community, told a number of such organizations he is in touch with the Qatari leadership and doesn't believe the Al Jazeera documentary will be aired in the near future.