Qatari presence in Gaza has been very prominent in the past five years, represented by a great money influx granted monthly by Qatar under humanitarian cover for citizens and political figures of the Palestinian factions in Gaza Strip.
The enormous amounts of money are being transferred by the Qatari ambassador Mohammed al-Emadi, who visits Gaza every month, entering through Tel Aviv airport. Observers see that this money is used by Qatar as a bargaining card played according to the situation between Gaza and Israel.
But in fact, through these endeavors, Qatar seeks political gains in the region and serves the Israeli aim at the same time.
In March 30 2018, Hamas movement declared the start of return marches and breaking the siege at the borders of Israel east of Gaza, attempting to push the occupation to break the Israeli siege and end the accumulated economic and human crises in Gaza. But this peaceful friction of the revolutionary youth had turned into a military action, where Qatar mediated and transferred money to Hamas in order to end its economic crisis and ease the tensions, leading Hamas to accept the Qatari conditions.
Thus, the relation between Hamas and Qatar has become a complex one, as both need each other, and both are opportunists looking for a big role in the region.
It is very clear that Hamas is searching for a headquarters, financial support and political cover, while Doha dreams of increasing its role in the region by trading with the Arab issues.
It tries to place itself at the position of the great player in the Middle East, deluding the U.S. and the West.
It kept Hamas’ office opened in Doha, and it still hosts the head of the movement’s political office, Ismail Haniya, who left for a tour throughout the Arab countries, but was not allowed to return to Gaza via Egypt due to disagreements with the Egyptian intelligence agency.
Since the start of the long-term truce talks between Hamas and Israel brokered by Egypt and the U.N., Qatar has tried to play the role of a mediator, depending on its strong relations with the two parties. It seeks to reach that truce regardless of the reconciliation agreement signed between Fatah and Hamas.
Doha is carrying out a diplomatic war against Egypt through its role in Gaza Strip crisis; it works on reaching a truce agreement between Hamas and Israel, contradicting Cairo’s approach that tries to heal the rift between Palestinian parties so they can go for wider negotiations with Israel.
Ignoring all the Egyptian endeavors for reaching a reconciliation agreement between Fatah and Hamas, Qatar is tempting Hamas with a greater dominion in the strip through its promises of huge investments that include infrastructure, and constructing an airport near Eilat in southern Israel under Israeli security supervision, in addition to the participation in constructing a sea route from Gaza to Cyprus.
The head of Israeli Mossad, Yossi Cohen, together with the commander of the southern region in the Israeli army, Herzey Helevi, visited Qatar secretly last February and met with the Qatari ambassador, Mohammed Al-Emadi, the Israeli website Walla reported.
The website pointed out that the visit came within the framework of the Qatari actions, aiming to stabilize the truce in Gaza Strip through humanitarian aid, financing projects of reconstruction, increasing the financial aid for poor families in Gaza by $ 15 million, and financing the construction of a hospital in Rafah at a cost $24 million.
There are disagreements on the Qatari support for Gaza, not only among the Palestinian movements, but also on the streets of Palestine, as some people see the Qatari support as a humanitarian project, while the others consider it as a political intervention in the Palestinian affairs with the aim of deepening its division.
The Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian factions are well aware of the risks of striking a truce deal between Israel and one Palestinian faction, Hamas, considering it as a part of Trump’s deal of the century that will lead to tearing the two parts of the homeland, the West Bank and Gaza, and causing a complete separation. “Any agreement without the approval of the Palestinian Authority will be illegal and will be considered as treason,” the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said; so, Qatar – tempting Hamas – will be strengthening the Palestinian division, having entered its fourteenth year.
“Qatar, with its political and regional aims, has deepened the Palestinian division, after inundating Hamas with huge amounts of money, prompting Hamas to reject any attempt for ending the division by setting up complicated conditions for talks with the Palestinian Authority to end the crises between them,” the political writer and analyst Yousef Ibrahim said to MENA Monitor.
Ibrahim pointed out that the money sent by Qatar to Hamas, is part of the de-escalation agreement between Hamas and Israel, sponsored by Qatar, Egypt, and the U.N. Israel, which allows the entrance of money through its territories, is well aware of the gains of a reconciliation with Hamas and strengthening its influence in Gaza by separating it from the West bank.
That would help bringing back relative calmness at least for Israel, especially as it is witnessing a political crisis due to stumble of elections and difficulty to determine the political future of Israel.
However, the analyst sees that these endeavors hinder the efforts to reach a real compromise for the Palestinian case, as they serve Hamas and the Israeli interests instead of the Palestinians.
Palestinian factions have lately started to be aware of the risks of the Qatari role, which obviously is not in the interests of Palestine. During a visit to Gaza in late November, Mohammed Al-Emadi was thrown with stones and expelled by young men on the boarders of Gaza. Moreover, the Democratic and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine were among the first to boycott meetings and visits of the ambassador, refusing the principle of money for de-escalation, and this was when al-Emadi stated in one of his visits: “This money is important to ensure the calmness and without it no one can live in Gaza.” These statements led to the discontent of the factions’ leaders and the youth, refusing to bargain their legal rights for money.
“Since Qatar has begun its projects in Gaza, it was obvious for the Palestinian factions that it has hidden political interests that we had warned of, but they did not listen,” Talal Abo Zarifah, a member of the political office of the Democratic Front said.
“Since the start of transferring the Qatari money to Gaza, we saw that there was something wrong by ignoring the sole representative of Palestinians, the Palestinian Authority,” Abu Zarifah told MENA Monitor, considering this as a lamentable matter that comes within a scheme to strengthen the state division among Palestinians, as the money is received and controlled by Hamas, not by the Palestinian people as Qatar claims.