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Friday, February 23, 2024

Qatar is the go-to mediator within the Mideast battle. Its unprecedented Tel Aviv journey saved a shaky truce

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JERUSALEM — The deal appeared on the verge of unraveling. Hamas had accused Israel of failing to maintain its aspect of the cut price and Israel was threatening to renew its deadly onslaught on the Gaza Strip.

That was the purpose at which a Qatari jet landed at Israel’s Ben-Gurion Worldwide Airport on Saturday. Negotiators aboard set to work, searching for to avoid wasting the cease-fire deal between Israel and Gaza’s Hamas rulers earlier than it fell aside and scuttled weeks of high-stakes diplomatic wrangling.

The primary public go to by Qatari officers to Israel marked a unprecedented second for the 2 nations, which haven’t any official diplomatic relations. It additionally underscored the main function of the tiny emirate in bridging variations between the enemies.

“That is one thing we’ve by no means seen earlier than,” Yoel Guzansky, a senior fellow on the Institute for Nationwide Safety Research in Tel Aviv, mentioned of the Qataris’ keep in Israel. “It’s the one exterior actor on the planet with that a lot leverage on Hamas, due to its a few years of help.”

The weekend mission was profitable, and a lot of the group jetted house. However a number of Qatari mediators stayed behind to work with Israeli intelligence officers on extending the four-day truce, which ends Tuesday morning, in keeping with a diplomat briefed on the go to who spoke on situation of anonymity due to the sensitivity.

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With its shut ties to the US — it hosts the most important American navy base between Europe and Japan — its communication with Israel since 1995 and its help of blockaded Gaza to the tune of what estimates recommend is greater than $1 billion since 2014, Qatar is uniquely positioned to interrupt deadlocks within the cease-fire talks, which additionally contain the U.S. and Egypt.

“We’d like Qatar,” Guzansky mentioned of Israel, noting that different Arab nations more and more have pursuits in Israel and are normalizing their relations. “Qatar is seen as the one participant within the Arab world that’s loyal to the Palestinian trigger.”

The emirate has hosted an abroad Hamas political workplace since 2012, permitting Qatar to wield some affect over the militant group’s decision-makers. High Hamas officers, together with the group’s supreme chief, Ismail Haniyeh, dwell in Qatar.

Qatar says Hamas’ political workplace in its capital, Doha, happened on the request of U.S. officers who needed to ascertain a communication channel, simply as Doha had hosted Taliban places of work throughout America’s 20-year battle in Afghanistan.

Qatari officers say they’re guided by a need to scale back battle, although their ties with a variety of Islamist teams, together with Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and the Taliban have drawn criticism from Israel, some U.S. lawmakers and neighboring Arab governments.

“That is smooth energy on steroids, mobilized for America’s curiosity,” mentioned Patrick Theros, a former U.S. ambassador to Qatar. “Internet hosting organizations which the US can’t be seen speaking to is a part of this coverage.”

The rich Gulf Arab state with a local inhabitants of simply 300,000 has leveraged its strategic location and super pure fuel riches to wield political affect and undertaking smooth energy all over the world, together with as host of the 2022 World Cup.

Within the Israel-Hamas hostage negotiations, Qatari mediators, joined by these from Egypt and the U.S., confronted the duty of getting the warring sides to place religion in diplomacy when belief was sub-zero.

Over the weekend, Hamas complained that Israel had violated the phrases of their cease-fire and mentioned the deal was at risk. Solely 137 vehicles with badly wanted humanitarian assist made it by means of on Friday, the primary day of the truce, and 187 on the second day, in keeping with the U.N. Palestinian refugee company. Israel had promised to allow 200 a day.

Qatari officers resorted to face‐to‐face conferences with Israeli officers to attempt to save the deal, in keeping with the diplomat. A couple of hours with Mossad officers in Tel Aviv proved essential on Saturday. Instantly, the deal was again on. Hamas handed over its second batch of Israeli hostages, households within the West Financial institution rejoiced over one other 39 ladies and youngsters free of jail, and Palestinians in Gaza emerged from their shelters to seek for gasoline and lacking relations.

Qatar’s assistant overseas minister, Lolwah Al-Khater, grew to become the primary overseas official to go to the besieged Gaza Strip on Sunday. He used the pause in combating to survey the disputed inflow of assist, meet wounded Palestinians and speak with Wael al-Dahdouh, Gaza bureau chief of Qatari-funded Al Jazeera, who misplaced his spouse, son and grandchild in an Israeli airstrike. The pan-Arab broadcaster, which has extra cameras in Gaza than some other information outlet, has dominated Arabic protection of the battle.

Regardless of their variations, each Israel and Hamas have an curiosity in prolonging calm. At the same time as greater questions mount over what occurs after the battle, a Qatari official who spoke on situation of anonymity due to the sensitivity of ongoing negotiations says his nation stays centered on what’s instantly potential, similar to sustaining the cease-fire and stopping a regional battle that attracts in Hamas’ Iranian patrons or Lebanon’s Hezbollah militants.

A gradual stream of officers have handed by means of Doha to that finish, together with Iran’s overseas minister, Lebanon’s caretaker prime minister and the director of the CIA.

“There isn’t any battle that started and ended on the battlefield,” Majed al-Ansari, spokesperson for Qatar’s International Ministry, informed The Related Press on Monday. “Now, as hostages are being launched and there are pauses within the combating, we would be capable to discover a answer.”



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