For the past few days, the Israeli Prime Minister has been focusing his criticism on Qatar, not knowing where to turn and, above all, in the face of a flood of worldwide criticism of his hard-line strategy in Gaza and the way out of the war. He even recently accused Doha of being indirectly responsible for 7 October. While Qatar has been manoeuvring to negotiate with the Islamist organisation for the past three months, it is also endangering the hostages, many of whom are still being held in Gaza.
Quite surprising to now accuse Qatar of bearing the burden of what is happening, even though Netanyahu acknowledged in 2019 that it was important to support Hamas in order to continue to weaken the Palestinian Authority and prevent the creation of a Palestinian state. Bibi’s policy has always been to deal with the Islamist organisation to the detriment of Abbas’s Palestinian Authority. The division of power between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip was the perfect tool to condemn the formation of a Palestinian state.
Netanyahu’s absurd attack on Doha when we know that the Hebrew state helped support Sheikh Yassin, its founder, in 1988, always with the aim of dividing the Palestinians as much as possible. Despite its anti-Jewish doctrine, Israel has supported the development of the most radical branch of the Muslim Brotherhood and has played with fire. Just as the Americans supported the Afghan Mujahideen against the Soviets, the Hebrew state thought it could use a few bearded men to weaken Yasser Arafat’s Fatah for good. Charles Enderlin, former France 2 correspondent in Israel, has published a number of articles and books explaining the complacency of the Israeli right towards Hamas, the emergence of which would certainly doom a future state for the Palestinians once again.
Finally, it’s absurd when you consider that Qatar has been harbouring Hamas leaders at the request of the Americans (and Israelis) so that it can negotiate the day they are needed. And since 7 October, alas, that day has arrived in an attempt to save the lives of almost 140 Israeli hostages still being held by Hamas in Gaza. Today, however, the powerless international community is trying to bring about a ceasefire and a halt to bombing in Gaza after the deaths of nearly 25,000 Gazans, mostly women and children, since mid-October.
If no lasting political solution emerges from the military response to Israel’s worst attack in decades, following the deaths of nearly 1,400 people in Israel in 48 hours, then once again a temporary solution will be adopted that will have to last, to prevent the Israelis and Palestinians of Gaza from killing each other to the last man. And in any case, it is unlikely to be the creation of the Palestinian state that the Israeli government still does not want. Even less so today, even if it would perhaps be the first guarantor of the security of the Jewish state.
Who can help put an end to the noise of weapons and get diplomacy back on track in the Middle East? The United States and Europe are still trying, with the support of Egypt and Qatar, which Netanyahu is suddenly criticising in order to absolve himself of his major responsibility. In a general geopolitical context in which the major Western powers are increasingly marginalised as peacemakers, as are the major international organisations that are supposed to ensure respect for international law, it is above all the regional powers that for several years have been regaining control of their zone of influence or putting forward their talent as peace mediators to have a say in the concert of nations in crisis or at war. As far as the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians is concerned, the United States, which for years has been disengaging from Middle Eastern conflict zones, can do little, especially as Joe Biden’s term of office, which is irrevocably drawing to a close, further weakens his capacity for influence and action, if his administration has had any over the last three years. The European Union, mired in the Ukrainian crisis, has long since lost its diplomatic capacity and remains forever a political dwarf in the cacophonous symphony of world powers. That leaves Egypt and Qatar above all. Traditionally, Egypt, which has been at peace with Israel since 1977 and the Camp David Accords, has always managed in recent years, since the arrival of President Sissi, to negotiate a pause in hostilities between Israel and Gaza. Cairo’s relations with the Hamas movement are cordial and enable it to reconcile its points of view with Tel Aviv on each occasion.
The player that can probably make the most of the situation, and in the continuity of what it has been doing for years, from the Horn of Africa to Afghanistan, is Qatar, which has had a relationship with Israel for a long time, something that Netanyahu forgets. Qatar’s proximity to these Islamist movements, such as the Taliban at the time of the negotiations with the Americans in 2018, is a key asset for Doha. It dates back precisely to the time when Washington asked the Emirate to keep an eye on its leaders. With the American base at Al Oudeid, the largest American off-ground base in the world, Doha saw its capacity to one day monetise this “service rendered” for its credibility and its de facto proximity to the enemies of many, and to see itself emerge as a key regional peace mediator.
Originally published at Info-Today.eu