Israel–Qatar relations

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Israel–Qatar relations
Map indicating locations of Israel and Qatar

Israel

Qatar

Israel–Qatar relations refers to the historic and current bilateral relationship between Israel and Qatar. Qatar established trade relations with the State of Israel since 1996.

Diplomatic relations[edit]

When Qatar were awarded the right to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup, they stated that Israel would be allowed to compete in the tournament should they qualify.[1]

Qatar National Olympic Committee and the State of Israel co-funded the Doha Stadium in the Israeli Arab city of Sakhnin located in the Galilee region of Israel. The stadium was named after the Qatari city of Doha. The decision by the Qataris to build the stadium in Israel came after a meeting between the Knesset member Ahmad Tibi and Secretary-General of the Qatar National Olympic Committee Sheikh Saud Abdulrahman Al Thani after Tibi expressed his concern on the conditions for sport in Sakhnin. The involvement of Qatar was to show that relations between the two nations are peaceful and with a similar interest.[2]

In 2013, Qatar reportedly assisted in an Israeli operation to bring a group of Yemenite Jews to Israel. The claim was made by a Lebanese source. According to the source, 60 Jews fleeing Yemen were allowed to transition from Doha on a flight to Israel.[3]

Israeli leaders harshly criticized Qatar's diplomatic and financial support of Hamas in the wake of Operation Protective Edge, accusing the Qataris of being major sponsors of terrorism.[4] Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman called for the banishment of Qatar-based Al Jazeera journalists from Israel.[5]

On 9 March 2015, Qatar's ambassador to Gaza reportedly sought direct approval from Israel to import construction material into the Gaza Strip after Egypt had refused to allow the Qatari delegation through the Rafah border crossing. The Palestinian Authority and Fatah lashed out at Qatar, condemning their efforts to engage in direct communication with Israel.[6][7] Jihad Harb, a political analyst and author, claimed that Qatar "might assume the role of mediator between Gaza and Israel, thus usurping the roles of the PA and Egypt."[6]

In June 2015, the Qatari government facilitated discussions between Israel and Hamas in Doha to discuss a possible five-year ceasefire between the two parties.[8]

Diplomatic visits[edit]

Despite Qatar's support of Hamas, Israeli leaders have maintained direct contact with the emirate. In January 2007, in his last months as vice premier, former President Shimon Peres paid a high-profile visit to the capital city of Doha. Peres also visited Qatar in 1996, when he launched the new Israeli trade bureau there.[9]

In January 2008 Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak met with former Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Khalifa al-Thani in Switzerland, at the World Economic Forum in Davos. Some sources have said that a senior figure from Qatar paid a visit to Israel in mid-January 2008 and met with Israeli leaders to discuss the situation in Gaza and the possibility of jump starting stagnant negotiations over the release of Gilad Shalit.[citation needed]

Foreign Affairs Minister Tzipi Livni also met with the Qatari Emir at a UN conference in 2008.[10] In April 2008, she visited Qatar where she attended a conference and met the Emir, the Prime Minister and the Minister of Oil and Gas.[11]

Economic relations[edit]

Qatar established trade relations with Israel in 1996.[12] In 2000, Israel's trade office in Qatar was closed down by authorities.[13]

Qatar permanently severed trade relations with Israel in 2009 following Operation Cast Lead.[14] In 2010, Qatar twice offered to restore trade relations with Israel and allow the reinstatement of the Israeli mission in Doha, on the condition that Israel allow Qatar to send building materials and money to Gaza to help rehabilitate infrastructure, and that Israel make a public statement expressing appreciation for Qatar's role and acknowledging its standing in the Middle East. Israel refused on the grounds that Qatari supplies could be used by Hamas to build bunkers and reinforced positions from which to fire rockets at Israeli cities and towns, and that Israel did not want to get involved in the competition between Qatar and Egypt over the Middle East mediation.[15][16]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Walid, Tamara (29 July 2013). "Qatar would 'welcome' Israel in 2022". The National. Retrieved 16 August 2013. 
  2. ^ Nahmias, Ro'ei (2006-01-14). "Why "Doha" Stadium and not "HaShalom"?" (in Hebrew). Yedioth Ahronoth. Retrieved 2007-10-08. 
  3. ^ "Qatar Helping Yemenite Jews Reach Israel?". Israel National News. 21 January 2013. Retrieved 16 August 2013. 
  4. ^ Miller, Elhanan (23 July 2014). "Israel singles out Qatar as key Hamas terror sponsor". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 23 July 2014. 
  5. ^ Westcott, Lucy (21 July 2014). "Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman Seeks to Ban Al Jazeera From Operating in Israel". Newsweek. Retrieved 23 July 2014. 
  6. ^ a b "Will Qatar-Israel relations threaten PA's relevance in Gaza?". Al Monitor. 6 April 2015. Retrieved 6 April 2015. 
  7. ^ "PA's Abbas Fuming Over Qatar Ambassador's Praise for Israel". Algemeiner Journal. 19 March 2015. Retrieved 6 April 2015. 
  8. ^ Lazareva, Inna. "Israeli and Hamas officials 'meet in Qatar to discuss a five year ceasefire deal'". telegraph.co.uk. Telegraph Media Group Limited. Retrieved 18 June 2015. 
  9. ^ "Peres on rare trip to Qatar". Cosmos.ucc.ie. 30 January 2007. Retrieved 16 August 2013. 
  10. ^ "Barak met with Qatari PM". Ynetnews.com. 29 June 1995. Retrieved 16 August 2013. 
  11. ^ "Livni to Gulf leaders in Qatar : Iran the threat not Israel". Israel National News. 2008. Retrieved 16 August 2008. 
  12. ^ Machowski, Matthew (19 May 2011). "Qatar-Israel Relations: A Historical Overview". MidEastJournal. Matthewmachowski.com. Retrieved 16 August 2013. 
  13. ^ "Qatar: Israel trade office closed". Associated Press. 11 September 2000. Retrieved 3 August 2015. 
  14. ^ "Qatar profile - Timeline". BBC. 21 May 2015. Retrieved 3 August 2015. 
  15. ^ "A shameful rejection – Israel News". Haaretz. 20 May 2010. Retrieved 16 August 2013. 
  16. ^ Ravid, Barak (18 May 2010). "Israel rejects Qatar bid to restore diplomatic ties". Haaretz. Retrieved 16 August 2013. 

External links[edit]