Qatar opens diplomatic office in Gaza to oversee millions of dollars in aid
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Qatar opens diplomatic office in Gaza to oversee millions of dollars in aid

Move provides a stamp of legitimacy for Hamas

Ismail Haniyeh, the head of the Hamas government in Gaza (photo credit: Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash 90)
Ismail Haniyeh, the head of the Hamas government in Gaza (photo credit: Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash 90)

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — In a boost to Gaza’s Hamas government, the Gulf state of Qatar said on Sunday it opened the first diplomatic office in the isolated territory since the Islamic military group took power five years ago.

Qatari officials said the office is not a formal embassy. Instead, it will oversee hundreds of millions of dollars in aid projects Qatar is funding.

Nonetheless, it is headed by an ambassador and marks a key stamp of legitimacy for Hamas, whose takeover of Gaza in 2007 has never been internationally recognized.

Hamas’ rival, President Mahmoud Abbas, who lives in the West Bank, is seen internationally as the Palestinian leader.

Abbas has long had rocky relations with Qatar, whose Al-Jazeera satellite channel is often critical of the Palestinian leader. Qatar often frequently hosts Hamas leaders.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

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