Israeli National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi on Wednesday praised Qatar’s efforts to free the more than 200 hostages held by Hamas, calling the Gulf state’s diplomacy critical.
“I’m pleased to say that Qatar is becoming an essential party and stakeholder in the facilitation of humanitarian solutions,” he said on X, formerly Twitter.
Former Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett took issue with Hanegbi’s comments, saying on X: “Israel’s government makes a grave moral and practical error.”
Qatar is not “an essential partner for humanitarian operations and diplomatic operations,” Bennett said.
“Qatar is the enemy itself. Qatar finances, assists and strengthens the terrorist organization Hamas-ISIS,” he added, noting that Israel’s goal is to destroy Hamas while Qatar’s goal is the exact opposite: to save Hamas.
“How can we destroy the enemy if we give compliments to its chief sponsor, for God’s sake?” Bennett asked.
He said that Qatar will continue to manipulate Jerusalem with humanitarian offers of the release of a few hostages every few days to “confuse Israel” and put a brake on its efforts to wipe out Hamas.
“The prime minister of Israel stated that our goal is to destroy Hamas completely,” Bennett said.
Relations with Turkey cool down
Bennett also referred to recent Israeli complaints about Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who said, “Hamas is not a terrorist organization, it is a group of mujahideen [“jihadists”] defending their lands.”
“What do we have to complain about Erdoğan if we compliment a country that sponsors and supports Hamas?” Bennett asked.
After a long diplomatic cold spell, ties between Israel and Turkey had warmed but now have slid backwards as Erdoğan sides with Hamas.
Turkey’s Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan, speaking in Doha alongside Qatari Prime and Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani on Wednesday, also attacked Israel.
“Targeting our Palestinian brothers, including children, patients and the elderly, even in schools, hospitals and mosques, is a crime against humanity,” he said.
Both Fidan and Mohammed decried what they called a “serious double standard,” drawing an equivalence between the Hamas massacre of Israeli civilians on Oct. 7 and Israel’s response, which they said the world should condemn.
“It is not permissible to condemn the killing of civilians in one context and justify it in another,” said Mohammed.