Qatari Diplomat: Israel, Hamas Holding Indirect Talks on Gaza
(Israel Hayom via JNS) Israel and Hamas have been holding indirect negotiations to end the crisis in the Gaza Strip, a Qatari diplomat told Chinese news agency Xinhua on Sunday.
“The U.S. administration knows about the talks,” said the head of Qatar’s Gaza Reconstruction Committee Mohammed al-Emadi.
Al-Emadi, who is currently visiting the coastal enclave, said no deal has been reached at this time, but negotiations were still ongoing to reach a comprehensive agreement that will improve the situation in Gaza, which is facing a humanitarian crisis.
Gaza has been under a tight Israeli and Egyptian blockade since 2007, when the Islamic terrorist group seized control of the enclave in a military coup. The measure has proved necessary to prevent the smuggling of weapons and terrorists into the area.
According to the report, the Qatari envoy said the United States has recently proposed several projects for Gaza to provide basic services such as electricity, desalination of drinking water and the rehabilitation of the industrial zone in Gaza, where unemployment nears 50 percent.
Al-Emadi said the projects were presented by U.S. President Donald Trump’s senior adviser Jared Kushner during his visit to the region last week, which included stops in Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and Israel.
“We demanded lifting the blockade on Gaza, which has suffered three wars,” he told Xinhua. “We highlighted to the Americans and Israelis the need to achieve this, and we are working on this issue, but so far we have not reached any results.”
The American efforts to restart the moribund regional peace process have so far been snubbed by Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas, who claims that, given Washington’s recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, it can no longer serve as an unbiased mediator in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Abbas refused to meet with Kushner and U.S. Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt during their Middle East tour, and has accused the United States of planning to separate the Gaza Strip from the West Bank so as to undermine the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.
Al-Emadi said any solutions for the crisis in Gaza would require the cooperation of the P.A.
“We will not interfere without the consent and the presence of the Palestinian Authority,” he stressed.
He also affirmed that Qatar will not interfere in the U.S. Mideast peace plan, saying that Doha will back any decision made by the P.A. in this regard.
Speaking about the Egyptian-sponsored reconciliation between rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah, al-Emadi said “Qatar will support any plans or agreement that will help end the sufferings of the Palestinians in Gaza.”
During his current visit to Gaza, he announced the distribution of a grant of $2.5 million to Gaza universities in addition to his country’s donation of the same value as medical supplies to hospitals.
“We are looking for a permanent solution to the problems of Gaza and we want to prevent any new war against the enclave,” he said.
The Qatari diplomat said he was told by Hamas and Israel that neither was interested in a new war, “but we have agreed with Hamas and Israel that in the event of a war, our projects will not be targeted unless they were used by Hamas.”
Israel and Hamas have fought three wars over the past decades, and the terrorist group ruling the enclave has been repeatedly excoriated for using civilian infrastructure, including U.N. facilities, as cover for its operatives and as hideouts for its extensive arsenal.
In 2012, Qatar launched a $407 million Gaza aid package focused on housing, health and infrastructure. Doha has also pledged to donate $1 billion during the international donor conference held in 2014 in Egypt for the reconstruction of the war-torn enclave.