For some years now, the government of Israel has been promoting a collaborationist agenda with Qatar that facilitates Qatari efforts to buttress Hamas in Gaza, under the cover of humanitarian assistance.  The Israeli government grants Qatari emissaries physical and financial access to Hamas and Gaza.[1] This generosity extends to the wholly owned Al-Thani[2] mouthpiece Al-Jazeera. The outlet with headquarters in West Jerusalem, can operate freely within Israel, without the demand for basic reciprocity that would allow Israeli media to work in Qatar. Israel enhances Al-Jazeera’s undeserved credibility by awarding the outlet privileged access to army bases and official personages, despite the channel’s constant incitement to violence against Israel.

All this is done in favor of a princedom that acts internationally and regionally as a declared enemy of Israel and the Jewish people with an historical and current record of support for terrorism see: Qatar, The Emirate That Fools Them All, And Its Enablers. How can an Israeli prime minister conduct such a collaborationist agenda with a country that provided a safe haven for a Muslim Brotherhood leader, who on Al-Jazeera yearned for another Holocaust this time God willing, at the hands of the Muslims? See: SHEIK YOUSUF AL-QARADHAWI: ALLAH IMPOSED HITLER UPON THE JEWS TO PUNISH THEM – “ALLAH WILLING, THE NEXT TIME WILL BE AT THE HAND OF THE BELIEVERS.”

In recent years, Qatar has become an ally of Erdoğan[3], another patron of the Muslim Brotherhood, who provides a safe haven to Hamas terror operatives and whose strategic affairs adviser, ex-general Adnan Tanrıverdi, formulated a plan for Israel’s destruction by Arab armies. [4]This alliance between Ankara and Doha has even blossomed into a military pact. Doha’s protégé Hamas peppers Israel incessantly with rockets.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu crows that he has forged ties with regional powers with whom Israel did not maintain ties previously, but empowering Qatar only estranges these countries, which unlike Israel have seen through Qatar’s two-facedness and unlike Netanyahu treat Qatar as an enemy. Netanyahu deludes himself that he can fool these countries or he considers them easy marks and too thick to see through his double game.

The real damage caused by this double game is not only the impediment it poses to improved relations between Israel and the Gulf States but it does damage in a far graver area. Israel’s collaboration with Qatar is critical to Doha’s regional empowerment and to its standing in the United States, and particularly vis à vis U.S. President Donald Trump. Qatar receives friendly nation status, while in practice it acts as a hostile entity against both Israel and the Trump administration (and against Trump personally).

Absent an explanation, the Israeli government’s collaborationist policy towards Qatar appears unhinged.[5]

What could be the ostensible motives behind a policy that betrays Israel’s interests and severely damages the United States in the region despite the free use of the Al-Udaid airbase?

One pseudo-Machiavellian argument that the PMO drip feeds (and particularly to Netanyahu’s nationalist base) is that by reinforcing Hamas, Israel widens the schism between Hamas and Fatah. This schism, according to the spin, prevents an Israeli-Palestinian agreement and with it the demand for an Israeli withdrawal. This argument is bogus and self-deluding. The Hamas-PLO schism derives from internal historical rifts among the Palestinians and has no need for manipulations such as Israel’s reinforcing Hamas.

Another explanation for the gullible is that the situation in the Gaza strip is so economically dire, that it is necessary to ward off a major outbreak of popular violence even at the cost of strengthening Hamas. This equally bogus argument is purveyed by none other than senior IDF officers and Israeli cabinet ministers. First of all, it is Hamas that animates and controls the violence, not only via rockets but by transforming the border area into a battle front. So this policy of appeasement for quiet simply does not work, as the experience since Israel’s 2005 withdrawal from Gaza has proven. It is Hamas that has built its political standing among the Palestinians by fighting Israel that prevents transforming the Gaza Strip into a prosperous Singapore,[6] the fondest wish of Israel, the United States and the international donor community. Therefore, in reinforcing Hamas, Israel does not dial down border violence.  During lulls in the violence, it reflects Hamas’ interests and abets Hamas preparations for the next round.

But the very premise that Gaza is a powder-keg of human misery that is about to explode is mendacious and inane. The Israeli government and the relevant military and civilian agencies should have been the first to know this. Instead they have assiduously promoted this lie about an imminent humanitarian crisis. When Hamas plucks at their heartstrings with laments about a humanitarian crisis that Hamas is completely responsible for, they abandon critical discernment and serve as an echo chamber for Hamas’ plaints.

The Israeli army, with its UAVs patrolling the Gaza skies 24/7, fails to see the number of automobiles clogging the Gaza streets at any given moment. Israeli officials do not use the simple expedient of opening Google Maps to survey the houses, streets and popular markets that show the opposite of desperation. Israel has bombed Hamas headquarters located in five-story buildings in areas called refugee camps, but it failed to grasp the obvious fact that the former 1967 refugee camps have morphed into a suburban area with multi-storied buildings, even if they are not swank areas (and Gaza has some of these as well as shown by Al-Jazeera itself in a documentary on Gaza shopping malls, hotels and pricey restaurants).[7]

The figures, supplied by the Israeli government itself, reveal that over many years Israel has poured into Gaza countless 50-ton and above trucks laden with food, medicines, equipment and even metal and concrete that are diverted to Hamas’s attack tunnels into Israel.[8] This traffic is interrupted only when Hamas burns the border crossings and Israel time and again rebuilds it.

Indeed, Gaza suffers from electricity shortages, but the shortages arise due to a refusal to pay for electricity supply that any consumer would pay everywhere. Similarly, the scandalous mismanagement of water resources has created a difficult condition. If the Israeli government genuinely believes that electricity and water shortages in Gaza will trigger a war that Israel seeks to avoid, then let Israel foot the bill for alleviating these shortages thus saving itself the prohibitive costs in blood and treasure of a new Gaza war. It does not need Qatar and Hamas—two avowed enemies—as middlemen to the population. [9] There are plenty of foreign NGOs who can serve as intermediaries. If Hamas dares to stop them from receiving free electricity and free water, it will be clear even in the United Nations who is causing the difficulties in Gaza. [10]

How low can the Israeli government go by sacrificing its own security interests and empowering Qatar regionally and in the United States for the 90 million to be paid by Qatar? This sum is a foolish investment since a new war will cost Qatar so much more.

When logical explanations fail, conspiracy theories thrive. One of them suspects Qatari penetration of the Israeli government. If Qatar allegedly bought out FIFA and impacted the policies of Western governments and think tanks, it can possibly do the same in Israel as well. Another theory assumes that Qatar is providing covert services to Israel (another feature of the two-faced Qatari modus operandi), and the Israeli government is obtuse enough to value these services over the overt damages that Qatar inflicts upon Israel and the United States.

*Yigal Carmon is president of MEMRI and served as an adviser on countering terrorism to two Israeli prime ministers.

[1] See MEMRI Daily Brief No. 152, Cut Off Qatar, March 4, 2018.

[2] The Al-Thani clan rules Qatar as a family fiefdom, while its mouthpiece preaches democracy, free elections and civil rights to all other countries. Needless to say that the entire wealth of this gas emirate is managed as the private fund of the emir, while Al-Jazeera slams other countries for corruption in government.

[3] See MEMRI Daily Brief No. 175, Dear Mr. President: You Are Unable To Devastate The Turkish Economy, As You Warned Because Your Bogus Ally Qatar Will Save Turkey Yet Again From Your Sanctions, January 15, 2019.

[4] See: MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 7371, Turkish Newspaper Close To President Erdoğan Calls To Form Joint Islamic Army To Fight Israel

[5] The United States also conducts a seemingly inexplicable policy towards Qatar. Qatar has a historical track record as a supporter of terrorism promoting Bin Laden even before 9/11. At every forum Qatar acts against the US and incites against it and in particular against the current administration on Al-Jazeera, but it at least receives the benefit of a military base and CENTCOM headquarters. Israel receives nothing but missiles, incendiary balloons and continued violence on its borders. The relationship with Qatar is all pain and no gain. See: MEMRI Daily Brief No. 154, Qatar And The American Syndrome, March 9, 2018.

[6] Israel’s former defense minister Avigdor Lieberman said in a message to Gaza: “We can be your greatest partners in the effort to turn the refugee camps into the Singapore of the Middle East.” I24news.tv/en, July 24, 2018.

[7] See Al-Jazeera video showing Gaza shopping malls see: MEMRI clip no. 6397 AL-JAZEERA TV REPORT ON BOOM IN GAZA CONSUMER ENTERPRISES

[8] For more details showing that the situation in Gaza is far from desperate, see MEMRI Daily Brief No. 148, Is Gaza In Need Of Qatar’s Aid?, Jan. 29, 2018

[9] Now that money transfers have replaced the suitcases laden with cash, Israel is violating the US anti-terror laws by facilitating transfers to a designated terror organization.

[10] Perhaps Netanyahu will find it politically embarrassing to pass this policy in the government but this should be the decisive consideration when preventing war is at stake. He can even recoup his political reputation by withholding the VAT money collected in Israeli ports for merchandised destined to the territories.