Reflecting intense anger and frustration at Qatar for its diplomatic and
financial support of Hamas, a senior diplomatic source on Wednesday
characterized the Persian Gulf state as a “bitter enemy of
“Qatar is an opportunistic regime,” which is one of the “most
problematic regimes” in the region, the source said. Without elaborating, the
source said Israel should be using some of the leverage it has with Qatar to
induce it to change its behavior.
The emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin
Khalifa Al Thani, visited Gaza last month, the first foreign leader to do so
since Hamas took power there in 2007. That move angered Jerusalem because it
gave Hamas strongly desired legitimacy.
This visit was followed by a
pledge from Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to follow suit and visit
Gaza as well. Erdogan, according to another Israeli source, did not go ahead
with the move because of US President Barack Obama’s request that he not do
The characterization of Qatar as a “bitter enemy” comes some four
years after Doha suspended its trade ties with Israel following Operation Cast
In 2010, Qatar signaled an interest in renewing ties with Israel if
Jerusalem would allow it to play a major role in the rebuilding of Gaza. Qatar
also wanted an Israeli statement recognizing its role in the region, something
Jerusalem was hesitant to do, both because of concern about Qatar’s growing ties
with Iran, and not wanting to get in the middle of Qatar’s rivalries with Egypt
and Saudi Arabia.
Qatar and Israel established trade relations in 1996,
and since then there have been various high-level meetings between Israeli and
Qatari officials in secret at international conferences.
Not all the
meetings have been in secret, however, and then foreign minister Tzipi Livni
went to Doha in 2008 for a conference, where she met the emir and senior