Israel-Qatar ties warming amid joint efforts to ensure Gaza calm — Israeli TV

Doha reportedly views Jerusalem as potential ally in mending relations with fellow Gulf nations; Israeli officials even claim normalization not out of the question

Qatar's point man for the Gaza Strip, envoy Mohammed Al-Emadi, attends a press conference at the Shifa hospital in Gaza City, Feb. 19, 2018. (AP/Khalil Hamra)
Qatar's point man for the Gaza Strip, envoy Mohammed Al-Emadi, attends a press conference at the Shifa hospital in Gaza City, Feb. 19, 2018. (AP/Khalil Hamra)

Israeli officials believe relations with Qatar are warming, a report said Tuesday, after a deal was reportedly made to increase aid to the Gaza Strip.

An Israeli delegation visited the Gulf sheikhdom in recent days and managed to guarantee $60 million will be given to Gaza by Doha before the end of 2020 to assist the Palestinian enclave, Channel 13 news reported.

The report could not be independently confirmed.

The report said Israel believed Qatar views its positive contacts with Jerusalem as a way of getting back in the good graces of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Qatar is being blackballed by the other members of the GCC — Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — due to its attempts to remain close to Iran.

The channel said officials even floated the notion of Qatar moving to normalize ties with Israel in the not-too-distant future.

Mohammad al-Emadi, Qatar’s envoy to Hams-controlled Gaza, has regularly visited the Strip in recent years with Israeli approval, bringing funds to the Strip for purchasing fuel, paying civil servants and helping Gaza’s poor. The funds are seen as crucial to maintaining calm along the border.

US President Donald Trump (second left) shakes hands with Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani, left, during a bilateral meeting, May 21, 2017, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Seated with them are (left-to-right): Then-US secretary of state Rex Tillerson, White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, and then-US National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Israel has in recent months reached agreements with two of Qatar’s neighbors, the UAE and Bahrain, to establish diplomatic ties. Top officials in Israel and the United States, which brokered those deals, have been promising similar breakthroughs with other Arab countries.

Channel 12 reported last week that Israel and Hamas had reached a truce agreement mediated by Qatar that will see quiet on the southern border for a period of six months. In return, Qatar will transfer $100 million to Hamas in a deal coordinated with Doha by Mossad head Yossi Cohen, alongside the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), according to the report.

It was not clear how that report squared with Channel 13’s latest story.

With the exception of several incidents of rocket fire — including on Tuesday, after Israel exposed what it said was a Hamas terror tunnel — an unofficial agreement between Israel and Hamas has mainly held since the end of August, when Hamas Gaza chief Yahya Sinwar’s office announced that the terror group had accepted ceasefire terms negotiated by Qatar.

Israel tacitly indicated its consent by lifting the restrictions imposed on the Strip since the beginning of the August escalation in violence.

A Palestinian policeman waves on a truck as it enters through the Kerem Shalom crossing into the Gaza Strip, on September 1, 2020, after a Qatari-mediated deal with Israel. (SAID KHATIB / AFP)

Earlier this month, Qatar reportedly asked the United States to buy advanced F-35 stealth fighters, in a test to America’s commitment to maintaining Israel’s military edge in the region in the face of wealthy Gulf states seeking advanced military hardware.

The request came after reports in September that the US and the United Arab Emirates were likely to seal an arms deal for the sale of the aircraft following the Washington-brokered Abraham Accords.

Intelligence Minister Eli Cohen subsequently said that Israel would oppose any potential deal for the sale of American F-35 jets to Qatar.

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