Ex-Qatari PM seems to say Gulf states will sign non-aggression pact with Israel

Remark by Hamad bin Jassim Al Thani comes months after FM Katz said he was working on treaties that would end state of war with Arab countries

Former Qatari prime minister Hamad bin Jassem Al-Thani. (CC-BY-SA World Economic Forum, Wikimedia Commons)
Former Qatari prime minister Hamad bin Jassem Al-Thani. (CC-BY-SA World Economic Forum, Wikimedia Commons)

A former senior Qatari official has appeared to indicate that Israel is on track to sign a non-aggression pact with Gulf countries.

The tweet by Hamad bin Jassim Al Thani, a former Qatari prime minister and foreign minister, comes two weeks after the unveiling of US President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace plan and months after Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz confirmed Jerusalem was working on such treaties with Arab countries.

“On December 14 last year, I published a tweet, in which I spoke about the deal of the century,” Hamad tweeted on Sunday. “I said that it will be announced at the beginning of this year. Now, a non-aggression pact between Israel and Gulf Cooperation Council countries as well as Egypt, Jordan and possibly Morocco, will follow.”

He added that he was “not against signing a non-aggression pact after clear results in the peace process are reached,” but cautioned Arab states against conciliatory moves that would boost the images of Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu without advancing their own interests.

US President Donald Trump participates in an expanded bilateral meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, January 27, 2020, in the Oval Office of the White House. (Official White House Photo by D. Myles Cullen)

However, it was not clear that the remark by the former official was based on concrete knowledge. He did not clarify his source and it is possible he was merely making a prediction.

It was also unclear why Jordan and Egypt would sign a non-aggression pact with Israel when they have peace agreements and high-level security cooperation with the Jewish state.

Nevertheless, Channel 12 analyst Ehud Yaari opined Wednesday that Hamad’s remark — combined with past remarks by Arab officials, a meeting Netanyahu had recently with Sudanese transitional leader Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, and Tunisia firing its UN ambassador due to a speech overly critical of the Trump peace plan — indicates that Gulf and other Arab and Muslim states have “made a U-turn on the path to canceling the state of war with Israel.”

Katz in October confirmed that he has been advancing non-aggression treaties with several Arab countries in the Gulf, a “historic” démarche he said could end the conflict between Jerusalem and those states.

“Recently I have been promoting, with the backing of the prime minister, a diplomatic initiative to sign ‘non-aggression agreements’ with the Arab Gulf states,” Katz wrote on Twitter at the time.

Katz, who is also intelligence minister, has previously met with senior Arab officials at least twice: In early July, he met an unnamed senior Emirati official during a visit to the Gulf city of Abu Dhabi, and later that month, he shared a photograph with Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa during an event hosted by the US State Department in Washington. It marked a rare instance of a top Arab official publicly documenting meeting a senior Israeli figure.

Foreign Minister Israel Katz delivers a speech during the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly on September 26, 2019 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City. (Johannes EISELE / AFP)

In November 2018, Katz traveled to Oman to attend an international transportation conference. “In my view cooperation between Israel and the Gulf states can and should be expanded,” he said at the time. “Israel also has a lot to offer when it comes to water desalination and irrigation, agriculture and medicine.”

In his speech at the UN in September, Katz stressed that Israel “has a clear policy to advance ties, and normalization with the Arab Gulf States.

“We have no conflict with the Gulf states, and we have common interests in the field of security against the Iranian threat as well as in developing many joint civilian initiatives,” he said.

“Israel has a lot of capabilities in many areas, including high-tech, innovation, agriculture and water technology, which can help the Gulf states, and the Gulf states have a lot of capabilities that can help Israel as well,” he noted. “I hope that this cooperation will lead to the signing of peace agreements between our countries, as we did with Egypt and Jordan.”

In August, Katz said it was realistic to expect formal peace deals with moderate Sunni Gulf states within a few years.

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