Qatar Vows Support for Hamas in Gaza, Hours After Deal With U.S. to Stop Funding Terror

Saudi Arabia and its allies have pressed Qatar to end its support to the pan-Arab Muslim Brotherhood movement, the historical parent of the militant Hamas group

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani
AFP PHOTO / STRINGER

A Qatari envoy says the energy-rich nation will continue development projects in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, despite a rift with its Gulf neighbors stemming in part from its ties with the Islamic militant group.

Mohammed El-Amadi spoke Tuesday as he signed a new agreement with a Palestinian contractor to build eight residential buildings.

Qatar has been the largest single donor to Gaza over the past five years, disbursing about a half billion dollars for housing, reconstruction, infrastructure development, and health projects.

Saudi Arabia and its allies have pressed Qatar to end its support to the pan-Arab Muslim Brotherhood movement, the historical parent of the militant Hamas group.

Hamas seized control of Gaza from forces loyal to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in 2007.

The United States and Qatar have signed an agreement aimed at shoring up the Gulf nation's counterterrorism efforts. The United State State Department designates Hamas a terrorist organization.

The memorandum of understanding was signed Tuesday during a visit to the energy-rich country by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

He is in the Gulf on a mission aimed at ending a rift between Qatar and four Arab states that accuse it of supporting extremists. Qatar denies the allegation.

Senior Tillerson adviser R.C. Hammond says the deal outlines "future efforts Qatar can take to fortify its fight against terrorism and actively address terrorism funding."